SecurityBrief Australia - Technology news for CISOs & cybersecurity decision-makers
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Aussies struggle to identify AI in love scams, McAfee study shows
Wed, 14th Feb 2024

New research from McAfee reveals the increasing role Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays in love and matchmaking, but also its potential dangers. According to the study, while 41% of men either are using or will use AI to enhance their online dating profiles, there is rising concern over the authenticity of online profiles, with 40% of Australians encountering fake profiles and 25% conversing with a potential lover who turned out to be a con artist.

Nearly 50% of Generation Z and Millennials in Australia would resort to AI for writing Valentine's Day messages. However, this increased use of AI in dating is leading to difficulties differentiating between genuine and bogus profiles. Notably, 47% of Australians admitted they would be unable to identify AI-generated love messages.

Head of APAC at McAfee, Tyler McGee said, "AI's possibilities are endless, and so are the perils. For Aussies who are shy about starting conversations, short on time to write a perfect message, or whose photos could be brightened, AI can help them enjoy all the fun and excitement that comes with online dating." He also highlighted the risks, stating that "cybercriminals use AI maliciously, to scale nefarious activity and to create increasingly realistic scams."

The research highlighted the increasing threat of digital romance scams. In their efforts to obtain personal information, scammers posed as potential love interests and asked respondents to share intimate photos or videos (24%), their phone numbers (35%), home addresses (16%), birth dates (19%) and even account passwords (6%).

Despite these concerning findings, there are steps individuals can take to armour themselves against romance and AI scams. Measures include examining direct messages closely, particularly from individuals met online, performing reverse-image searches of profile pictures, and never sending money or gifts to someone they haven't met in person—even if money was sent to them initially.

Practical tips notwithstanding, the study points to the necessity for an increased awareness of online dating security and a guarded approach when sharing personal information online. The role of AI in love and matchmaking is proving to be a double-edged sword, providing numerous benefits for online daters, while simultaneously opening up opportunities for online scams and misrepresentation.