WASHINGTON: 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 on Thursday.

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 organisations. 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 organisation 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.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2017

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