Cybersecurity firm McAfee released its 2023 cyber threat predictions where it underlined the threat of disinformation campaigns powered by AI-generated images, videos and voices. The firm also pointed out the threat of crypto scams as the popularity of Web3 fluctuates during a tumultuous time for the industry.
The recent proliferation and popularity of artificial intelligence-powered software that can produce imagery based on text prompts means that creating AI-generated images, videos and sometimes even voices is no longer something that can be undertaken by a select few. Now, pretty much anyone with a digital device can use online software to generate such content.
McAfee predicts that these tools will empower scammers, propagandists and other cyber criminals who want to influence public opinion. These tools will also allow criminals to create counterfeit and manipulated images without the need for professional expertise.
With the fallout surrounding the bankruptcy of crypto exchange FTX and the fall from the grace of its founder Sam Bankman-Fried, there has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Web3 industry. But McAfee predicts that some amateur investors could still be lured into get-rich-quick crypto schemes, remembering the rapid rise of Bitcoin’s value earlier this decade.
Cybercriminals could take advantage of these gullible investors by pitching them scams disguised as Web3 offerings. For example, they could allure users into clicking a link or downloading an app that claims to interact with some blockchain but is actually designed to collect fiat currency and offer nothing in return. Users could also be targeted with aggressive adware that compromises their device’s safety, and performance. The fear of missing out on monetary gain could make these scams increasingly attractive to users.
Along with new threats, McAfee also predicts that older scams will be retargeted at users with new “hooks” or bait. Cryptocurrency scams that were prevalent in 2022, for example, could be repackaged with deep fake videos of trusted personalities to make them seem legitimate to unsuspecting users.
Predatory fake loan apps that provide users direct loans only to give them short repayment periods and high-interest rates could also continue to be prevalent in 2023. Mass layoffs from the biggest tech companies in the world signal that 2023 could be a difficult financial time for a lot of people, meaning that fake investment scams might also proliferate during the year.
With Facebook changing its name to Meta, the metaverse shot into the mainstream of public discourse. The word was so popular that it was one of the contenders for Oxford’s word of the year in 2022. McAfee predicts that malicious actors would attempt to exploit the lack of understanding of the metaverse to scam people with phishing campaigns.
The increasing popularity of cost-effective devices that run ChromeOS could provide the climate for threat actors to compromise such systems, especially considering the fact that the operating system can run Android apps. The adoption of progressive web apps (PWAs) could provide another avenue for cybercriminals to conduct attacks.