Fighting AI crime crime means doing all the things you’ve been told to do for years, just doing them better and more often. And starting now.
And perhaps most important of all, using multiple layers of security to give you that essential extra protection, and always being vigilant for those telltale signs that what you’re looking at or hearing is not really real.
To make things a little easier, we’ve created a collection of dozens of short videos that we call Secure In 60 Seconds. That’s because all it takes is a minute or two to learn what a threat is and the handful of good habits you need to avoid it.
BUT FIRST, WHAT IS AI CRIME?
AI crime is simply where criminals use AI tools to make their crimes easier and more effective:
- It’s making the most common scams and frauds much easier to launch and succeed, at a massive scale, and therefore much more lucrative.
- It’s making previously difficult, challenging, and expensive cyber attacks and frauds more cost-effective to pull off.
- And it’s creating an entirely new generation of crimes.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the value of individual awareness, choices, and behavior in defeating most of these crimes. Or at least in minimizing their impact.
In the meantime, here’s the best advice that we can give to keep you one step ahead of this new AI crimewave.
VIGILANCE IS STILL EVERYBODY’S BEST BET
As these crimes become even more convincing, the best defense (and revenge) is to be constantly vigilant for the red flags, don’t panic, don’t be scared or intimidated into responding too quickly, and always be skeptical.
Scammers are relying on an understandable sense of panic and the mistake of paying first and asking questions later. Your best defense is to slow down, catch your breath, and think before you react. Look at what you’re being asked or offered, and if you’re still not sure, find some other way or channel to verify its authenticity.
USE 2FA AND MFA
Might sound complicated but it’s not really. Two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) is simply an option to add an extra layer of security to something like a bank account or social media account.
You typically have to do very little, often nothing more than adding a phone number so you can receive a text message whenever you’re trying to log in, change a password, make a bank transfer etc. It’s just another way to verify it’s really you and not, well, AI.
GET SERIOUS ABOUT YOUR PASSWORDS
Whether your passwords are one line of defense or one amongst many, you still need to be smart about them. Passwords that will offer the best defense against the latest AI-driven attacks need to be at least 12 characters long, and as complex and random as you can make them.
Your best bet is to use one of the many cheap or free password managers that will make it so much easier to create, store, and use all those passwords. Secure In 60 Seconds videos will explain more.
Did you know? An analysis of the billions of stolen passwords circulating on the black market showed that of the 50 most commonly used passwords, 49 can be cracked in less than one second.
DON’T REUSE YOUR PASSWORDS. EVER!
While still on the subject of passwords, don’t be tempted to reuse a password, no matter how complex and original you think that password is or how proud you are of it.
AI tools are very good at taking the millions of passwords already exposed in data breaches and finding out all the other sites you might be using the same password on. It’s called credential stuffing and you don’t want your security stuffed.
FREEZE YOUR CREDIT
With all the stolen personal information out there, stolen mainly through the thousands of data breaches in the last few years, identity theft has been the top crime for more than a decade.
AI is making it so much easier, so if you haven’t already frozen your credit, do so now, because it’s the best way to stop the most common type of identity theft. It’s very easy to do, it’s completely free, it doesn’t hurt your credit, and you can undo it anytime you want. Again, we have a video that explains more.
DON’T TRUST, ALWAYS VERIFY
Before you react or respond to anything, do everything you can to first verify the authenticity of what you’re encountering. Trust me, you’ll be glad that you did.
If you get a call from your bank or credit union about a suspicious activity, a request to pay an urgent bill through Zelle, a threat that you’re going to be arrested for not paying a speeding ticket and so on, go to the claimed source first and ask them if they really did send that message.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS, PARENTS, AND GRANDPARENTS
Kids and seniors are amongst the most vulnerable to the growing variety of AI crimes. Whether it’s sextortion crimes targeting kids and teens, or financial or romance scams targeting the elderly, the damage can often go far beyond simply financial.
Your best bet, and their best defense, is to talk to them often. Explain what the scams are, how serious they are, how to spot and avoid them, and then remind them often. It might feel like nagging, but they’ll appreciate it.
EVEN BETTER, TEACH YOUR KIDS TO TEACH THEIR GRANDPARENTS
We created a project where we encourage kids and teens to learn the basics of cybersecurity and fraud prevention, and then teach those skills to their grandparents. Not only a great way to get multiple generations more aware and vigilant, but a great excuse to spend quality time with each other.
WATCH OUT FOR ROMANCE AND SEXTORTION SCAMS
AI is ideally suited to creating very convincing romance scams. For seniors and the elderly, the focus is often on tricking them into parting with large amounts of money. The best defense is to constantly remind seniors of the existence of these types of scams and to contact you or someone else they trust if any stranger starts to show a serious interest in them.
For kids and teens, AI scams increasingly revolve around sextortion. Using AI to create very realistic-looking and believable social media profiles and using those profiles to develop a more intimate relationship.
That often leads to a request for revealing or explicit photos or videos and that’s when the extortion begins. Those same tools can also take an image or video that the victim posts and turn them into a very realistic looking pornographic video.
But there’s a simple solution. Remind your kids to set all their social media accounts to private, be very careful and selective with any friend or connection requests, and to never ever share any suggestive or explicit photos, videos, or even comments with anyone, ever, for any reason, and that includes their besties.
REIGN IN DANGER FINGER
Danger finger is your index finger, and the one that’s most likely to click on something that you shouldn’t. Whether it’s a malicious link in an e-mail, a malicious attachment to an e-mail, or a website, the better you are at reigning in danger finger and simply not clicking on stuff that you don’t have to, the safer we’ll all be.
BE SMARTER WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media presents one of the biggest security risks, not only because we share so much information about ourselves, but often we have no idea who we’re sharing that information with.
And social media is where the scammers are getting all that information to create deepfakes. Photos of your face, photos of the faces of your family and friends, videos of you, and samples of your voice.
So make sure you set every social media account to friends only, and be very careful and discerning in what you post.
AND IF YOU DO FALL VICTIM
I’ve worked with victims of scams and frauds for quarter of a century and have seen that the psychological and emotional damage is usually worse than the financial damage.
If you do fall victim to one of these increasingly convincing scams, don’t allow yourself to be consumed by guilt or shame. Some of the best experts on the planet, and yes including me, have fallen for these scams.
If you allow yourself to be psychologically harmed, the criminals win twice. Your best bet, and best revenge, is to become a champion of security awareness so that there won’t be more victims.
Want to learn more about how to protect yourself and your family? Make sure to check out Secure In 60 Seconds, our collection of dozens of short videos on all the important crimes and scams.