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Friday, 1 April 2016

Fake boss scams meet AI robocallers in a dangerous escalation of fraud

Many of us will be familiar with the "fake boss" scam. You're sitting at your desk when your CEO suddenly calls and asks you to transfer a large stack of currency to some shady bank account for a business transaction you are not allowed to talk about.

This type of fraud is simple and can often pay out big bucks, but it is also labour intensive. Research has to be done on companies and convincing calls have to be made to unsuspecting minions. Not only does this all take some time, but the more people involved in the scam then the more ways you have to split the booty.. and the greater the change of getting caught.

Now, the notorious Russian gang dubbed Den Duraka by researchers have been discovered using a cunning new technique which makes this type of attack even more dangerous. Instead of relying on human beings to make the phone calls, they have now enrolled an AI-powered robocalling system called which promises to be a game-changer.

Sporting the clumsy Russian acronym LOZHNYY, this is deeply integrated into LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, with feeds into business directories using hacked credentials. Once it has found a CEO to impersonate, it scours the web for video and audio clips to get an idea of accents and mannerisms, and then it starts to research company filings and financial data. All of this is then combined with a wide range of pre-prepared scripts and some basic question-and-answer scenarios to make a deadly weapon in the hands of the scammers.

Some of the conversational AI features are rudimentary, and LOZHNYY sometimes resorts to buzzword-laden nonsense when out of its depth. Victims report that they were not suspicious as this seemed consistent with the behaviour of their CEOs.

Cybersecurity experts are struggling with ways to counter this new threat. At the moment their best advice is to completely ignore any communications from your CEO and indeed any C-level executive. You have been warned!

(If you hadn't spotted the clues in the Russian names above.. this is an April Fools joke)

1 comment:

James said...

Suffice it to say, Mr Longmore, that I know what the Russian word durak means - and I like to think that I am not one of them. :)