Q&A: Was it for real? Immerse yourself in deepfake reality

The ability to transform changes and recompose them produces frightening and rather disturbing results. Image by Edward Webb, https://www.flickr.com/photos/crazyeddie/4118740532/, CC BY-SA 2.0

How much should we care about deepfakes? Is it valuable technology or something of great concern for confidence in public life? To understand the complexity, Digital journal spoke with AI expert David Britton, vice president of strategy, global identification and fraud at Experian, about the benefits and risks of deep learning. Britton explains how bad actors can deceive or manipulate consumers and businesses – and what both can do to mitigate the dangers.

Digital Journal: What Exactly Are “Deepfakes” And Why Are They Concerned?

David Britton: “Deepfakes” – a “deep learning” and “scythe” coat rack – are artificially created pictures, videos and sounds that are designed to mimic real human characteristics. Often, they are used to replace the likeness of one (real) person with that of another, creating either artificial speech or imagery. Potential fraudsters can then exploit these documents for their own purposes, putting businesses, governments and / or individuals at risk.

DJ: What are some of the problematic ways that deepfakes can be used?

Britton: In the case of businesses and governments, deepfakes can be used to access points of vulnerability that put organizations at risk. This could be done through the proliferation of disinformation, for example, or through sophisticated social engineering programs through remote channels. In the case of consumers, the risks include being duped into scams soliciting money or gaining access to personal information – often using voice cloning to bypass biometric systems that evil actors would not otherwise have access to.

DJ: What can individuals do to mitigate these types of risks?

Britton: The most important thing that businesses and individuals can do is maintain constant vigilance. Scammers are relentless and always on the job, quick to jump on any loophole or weak spot. For consumers, this means staying on top of potentially sensitive personal information. It’s also worth being on the lookout for voicemail messages or suspicious calls – often voice deepfakes sound somewhat familiar but feel slightly out of place – especially if the message in question asks for personal information or money.

It is also important to carefully review social media video content from leaders or trusted personalities; does the message sound too alarmist or out of character for that person? If so, trust your instincts and verify these statements through other sources, before sharing and spreading potentially dangerous and bogus content.

DJ: Are there specific steps companies can take to thwart deepfakes?

Britton: In the case of businesses, a layered strategy is the best defense. The best way to prevent the spread of deepfakes is to make it impossible for scammers or attackers to access the platform to distribute this content.

When you allow users to open accounts or access accounts, it is important to overlay tools, such as identification controls such as verification, device identification, and behavioral analysis, which are all powerful tools. Businesses can also fight fire with fire – using the same technology available to the fraudster – especially machine learning and advanced analytics – to fight such attacks, as Experian is already doing in its fight against fraud.

DJ: What does the future look like for deepfakes?

Britton: Technology is constantly evolving and the nature of deepfakes will therefore continue to change in the years to come. But while those nuances can change, best practices for offsetting their impact shouldn’t. By maintaining vigilance and awareness of the environment and emerging threats, consumers and individuals can stay ahead of risks and continually strengthen their own defenses.

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