'Fake news' becomes a business model
Cyber criminals have latched onto the notion of "fake news" and turned it into a profitable business model, with services starting at under $10, security researchers said yesterday.
The online security firm Digital Shadows released a report highlighting services aimed at creating bogus media websites, fake reviews and social media "bots" or automated accounts to promote or denigrate commercial products and services.
One of the methods used is creating bogus or "spoofed" media websites designed to look like those of legitimate news organizations. The researchers uncovered some 2,800 "live spoof" sites.
This can be done by changing a single letter in a web address to create a fake "clone" of a legitimate news organization site.
Some criminals use the same methods as Russia-based propagandists -- modifying legitimate documents and leaking them as part of disinformation campaigns, the report said.
"Like any good news story, content will be shared, liked, reposted and distributed across many different platforms and channels," the report said.
"The more widely a piece of disinformation can be spread, the better the chances of it capturing the public imagination and achieving its objective -- whether that is to discredit an opponent, sow discord or to generate profit."