Fox8 botnet Unmasks 1,000 AI Bots on X, Creating Fake Accounts by Stealing Selfies

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  • AI-powered Fox8 botnet spreads misinformation & steals identities on X.
  • Advanced language models like ChatGPT enable human-like deception.
  • Urgent need for regulations & countermeasures to combat AI-driven threats.

In a shocking revelation, researchers from Indiana University’s Observatory on Social Media have uncovered a disturbing bot problem on X (formerly known as Twitter). A recent study by a student-teacher team exposed a network of over 1,000 artificial intelligence-powered accounts that generate machine-generated content and steal selfies to fabricate fake personas. This troubling discovery has raised concerns about the extent of misinformation and the potential harm these bots might inflict on the platform and its users.

The Fox8 botnet and its role in creating a playground for misinformation

The research team, led by scientists Kai-Cheng Yang and Filippo Menczer, identified a sprawling network of fake accounts on X, dubbed the “Fox8” botnet. This network employs advanced language models, including ChatGPT, to generate content to promote suspicious websites and spread harmful narratives. Beyond the creation of fake personas, these bots have been observed attempting to lure unsuspecting individuals into investing in fraudulent cryptocurrencies. Even more concerning is their alleged involvement in theft from existing crypto wallets, revealing a level of sophistication that could cause significant financial losses.

Crypto connections and spreading deception

The Fox8 botnet strategically targets hashtags related to cryptocurrencies, such as #bitcoin, #crypto, and #web3, to increase the visibility of their posts. These posts often interact with human-operated accounts focusing on crypto, like the well-known ForbesCrypto (@ForbesCrypto) and the blockchain-centric news site Watcher Guru (@WatcherGuru). By engaging with legitimate accounts, these bots create an illusion of authenticity and credibility, making it even harder for users to distinguish between genuine content and malicious intent.

Beyond crypto and a multi-faceted threat

The malicious activities of the Fox8 botnet extend beyond the realm of cryptocurrencies. Yang and Menczer’s research highlighted that these bot accounts are responsible for distorting online conversations and spreading misinformation across various contexts, including critical areas like elections and public health crises. This amplification of misinformation poses a substantial risk to public discourse and decision-making processes, warranting urgent attention and countermeasures.

A new level of believability

Unlike the easily detectable botnets of the past, the Fox8 network employs more sophisticated tactics to appear convincingly human-like. These bots steal images from real users and interact with each other, including retweets and replies. Additionally, they maintain profiles with descriptions, followers, and tweet counts, further enhancing their apparent authenticity. This level of detail in their profiles and interactions makes it challenging for users to identify them as fraudulent accounts.

The chatGPT revolution and its dark exploitation

The study highlights the significant role of advanced language models like ChatGPT in enabling the operations of botnets like Fox8. These language models have exponentially improved the capabilities of these bots, enabling them to craft content that is increasingly difficult to distinguish from that generated by humans. The availability of free AI APIs has expedited this process, allowing malicious actors to exploit these tools to deceive unsuspecting users.

The erosion of detection methods

Traditionally, researchers could identify botnets based on unnatural language use and unconvincing content. However, the rise of ChatGPT and similar technologies has eroded the effectiveness of conventional detection methods. Even applying state-of-the-art content detectors, the research team struggled to differentiate between human-generated and AI-generated content within the Fox8 botnet.

Urgent calls for action

The alarming findings of this study emphasize the urgency of addressing the growing threat posed by AI-powered botnets. Menczer stresses that the current lack of effective methods to detect AI-generated content necessitates allocating significant resources toward developing appropriate countermeasures and regulations. Without such interventions, the potential for manipulation, misinformation, and financial exploitation remains unbridled.

The invisible threat and what lies beneath

While the researchers did not disclose the specific handles associated with the Fox8 botnet, they discovered their existence through self-revealing tweets inadvertently posted by these accounts. This led them to search for the phrase “as an AI language model” on X, identifying over 12,000 tweets from around 9,000 unique accounts. Although not all these accounts are confirmed to be LLM-powered bots, the study estimates that a substantial portion are engaged in AI-generated content dissemination.

The Indiana University research sheds light on a growing menace within the digital realm: AI-powered botnets that steal identities, spread misinformation, and manipulate users for malicious purposes. The study underscores the urgency of finding practical solutions to these evolving threats. As technology advances, the battle against AI-generated deception will require innovation, collaboration, and vigilance to safeguard the integrity of online spaces.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Editah Patrick

Editah is a versatile fintech analyst with a deep understanding of blockchain domains. As much as technology fascinates her, she finds the intersection of both technology and finance mind-blowing. Her particular interest in digital wallets and blockchain aids her audience.

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