In a world where some people are willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead, it is not surprising ransomware is a growing threat to people and businesses of all sizes. Making things worse, the development and affordability of deepfake technology is a growing concern for businesses everywhere. The victims of these attacks are no longer just political big shots or celebrities, they are coming after you and your business.

Deepfake technology is an emerging technique that uses facial mapping, artificial intelligence (AI) and deep machine learning to create ultra-realistic fake videos of people saying and doing things that they have not actually done.

Cybercriminals can use these fake videos to get their victims to take action. They could convince their victims to pay a ransom to prevent the spread of a video to friends and family. Criminals could also get people to click on a malicious link that could infect their device with ransomware. With a single click of a link, victims could lose access to all their important files.

Criminals can also use the emerging technology to impersonate someone within the same organization. For instance, a crook could create a fake video of your boss asking you to transfer money from your corporate account into one owned by the scammer. We live in a world where we believe with our eyes and ears, so it is not surprising that criminals would use developing technology to visually depict the people we are associated with.

With our society becoming more dedicated to improving technological advancements, the line between what is real and what is fake online is becoming blurry. The growth in social media platforms also gives criminals access to more photos and videos of people than ever before, making it easier to create more realistic videos of their victims.

Making matters worse is the fact that you do not even need to know how to create deepfake technology to use it because criminals are selling it on the Dark Web at affordable prices. This means more people can gain access to this technology which puts more people at risk of getting taken advantage of.

These attacks can be detrimental to both you and your business. On the financial side, criminals are coming after your data and money, and may require a ransom to either prevent the release of a video or to give you access again to your files. But their words have no merit. Another concern is that they can convince you to move money around into accounts that do not actually belong to your business. Outside of financial concerns, it can damage the reputation and health of both individuals and businesses when scandalous fake photos and videos are released online. People can be fired, or businesses can be shut down for something they did not even do.

Now it is important to discuss how we can protect ourselves against deepfake ransomware attacks. It is important to remember not to click on links sent from suspicious people. There is a good chance the link or attached doc could be malicious and infect your device with ransomware. If you need to visit a website always type the address directly into your browser instead of trusting a link.

As a potential victim, the easiest way to defend against such an attack is by changing your privacy settings on social media. Make it so that your profile is not available publicly, being only accessible to those you are friends with. Using unique and strong passwords along with multi-factor authentication can prevent criminals from accessing your social media accounts.

If you have fallen victim to one of these attacks and the criminals demands that you pay a ransom, avoid paying it. Most of the ransoms come with a hefty price tag that individuals or small businesses do not have petty cash for. Even if you were to pay the ransom, there is a good chance the criminal will not do as they say. Your best bet is to either restore your data from backups or to rebuild the system again from scratch. Restoring from backups isn’t the safest option because there is a real risk that the backups are also corrupted with very same ransomware encryption. Rebuilding the system again from scratch is the safest option except that complete data is not available. Along with this, the disruptions to the daily operations of your business can hurt the amount of revenue your business brings in.

As technology continues to be a central aspect of every business, we are at a greater risk for cyberattacks than ever before. The scams we continue to hear about get more elaborate as technological advances are being made. Taking extra precautions and verifying where your information is coming from can help prevent you from falling victim to a deepfake ransomware attack.