What You Can Do to Protect Yourself From AI Scams
How bad is all this? Well, it’s definitely not good. It means any wannabe criminal with a computer powerful enough for an LLM could theoretically be running hundreds of simultaneous scams in the background for months. The bot scammers would speak flawlessly, just like humans, and they’d never sleep. They might even impersonate your friends. It would be a literal fraud farm with electricity the only overhead.
However, the barrier here would be a pretty steep one. It’s not like you can google “LLM” and download one. At least you couldn’t until last month, when Facebook’s LLM, LLaMa, got leaked on 4chan.
But as unquestionably dire as this seems, I wouldn’t load up your car and set out for rural Oregon just yet. On the other hand, if you’ve been brushing off your digital security expert friend’s cybersecurity recommendations for years, now it’s time to start listening.
1. Don’t Take Investment Advice From Strangers Online
Maybe this goes without saying: If you don’t take investment advice from your brother-in-law, then don’t take it from a complete stranger on Instagram either. The situation is already bad, and it’s going to get exponentially worse.
2. Pay Hawk-Like Attention to Email Addresses
Scammers are still going to be using the old-fashioned model of sending batch emails and SMS, hoping to snag one victim in a thousand. Only now their English is going to be identical to the bona fide messages you receive every day from the businesses you subscribe to. The fraudsters may even know your name. But there’s always one tell: The senders’ email addresses and phone numbers are never going to be real. So look at those first. If PayPal is contacting you from a hotmail address, it isn’t PayPal.
3. Don’t Click on Links
I just received an email from an old friend who wanted to show me where he was working now. The email had a link. I didn’t click on it. I googled the company and clicked on that link, found him on the “team” page, and that was that. As weird as it sounds, you can’t trust anything or anyone online these days — even an email that seems to be coming from a long-lost friend. So research first, click later.
4. Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
2FA means you have to prove your identity twice before you can access your account, once via email (which anyone can have) and once via your phone (which only you should have). After you’ve enabled 2FA — usually in your account security settings — whenever you try to log in, you’ll get an SMS with a one-time password. You can also set 2FA to work with an authenticator app like Google Authenticator. I can’t recommend it enough.
5. Be Careful Where You Give Your Credit Card Details
Ever had your credit card swiped? I did last week. And it was nerve-racking. Thanks to my bank’s quick work, the thief didn’t get away with anything. Where did it happen? My best guess is that the sleazeball bought my credentials on the dark web after I made an online purchase at an unsecure store. I guess I didn’t have my VPN running at the time, which shows you much a quality VPN is worth in the real world.
6. Get SMS Notifications from Your Bank
This goes hand in hand with No. 5. Setting up bank notifications means that if a fraudster does steal your credit card details and tries to use your card, you’ll get a beep on your phone. If you’re on the treadmill sweating to Lady Gaga and your phone tells you you’ve just bought a new laptop at the Apple Store, you’ll know something’s not right.
7. Look Into Identity Theft Protection
Identity theft is a huge business in its own right, with over a million cases reported yearly.4 Unlike guarding our bank details, protecting our identity involves more moving parts than most of us can keep track of — and you don’t need to. A quality identity theft protection service will monitor all your personally identifiable information (PII) for you, 24/7.
8. Protect Your Devices from Malware
Everyone at one time or another makes a bad click. If you have some form of malware protection on your devices, the software will catch it and stop the virus before it can spread. You can sometimes find malware protection bundled into identity theft protection plans. Aura Identity Theft Protection and LifeLock by Norton are two brands worth checking out.