Cybersecurity needs to change as deepfakes threaten our identities

Identity theft and other fraud can be easier with deepfake technologies

Deepfake technology poses risk on people's identityCybersecurity experts speculate that fraud and blackmail can be easier once deepfakes become popular.

Deepfake technologies have been here for a while now as many of us have probably seen manipulated video footage of the United States President declaring war or some Hollywood superstar spitting controversial nonsense. However, threats for identity theft become bigger and bigger for normal people too, not only world leaders.

Speaking quite frankly, deepfakes could be referred to manipulated videos or other digital representations produced by sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI). Such technology could fabricate images and sounds that appear to be real. Usually, video deepfakes are the most common, however, audio deepfakes are also growing in popularity[1].

From a technological viewpoint, deepfakes are created when artificial intelligence (AI) is programmed to replace one person's likeness with another in recorded video. Nowadays, there are tons of free apps even for the biggest amateurs to try and create their own deepfakes[2].

However, real threat actors hardly rely on such tools as their schemes are far more complicated and thus, dangerous. Cybercriminals use this technology to impersonate anyone and stolen identity could mean stealing hundreds of thousands of very sensitive and personal data.

Experts warn about attacks where deepfakes used

Cybersecurity experts are on alert mode. Prospects for our cyber safety are quite pessimistic as researchers point out that in the next few years both criminal and nation-state threat actors involved in disinformation and influence operations will likely gravitate towards deepfakes[3].

This change could be related to modern online media consumption practice as people tend to lean to the “seeing is believing” position more and more. Apparently, hackers will give people what they want, as research shows that the most popular topics on dark web forums include deepfake tools, how-to methods, and lessons, sharing free software, and photo generators.

More and more experts see a threat of the growing popularity in biometric technology and digital ID verification as institutions and individuals are using voice and face recognition for proof of identity for banking or security functions. Unfortunately, cybercriminals have started to use the technology which can be used to bypass biometric-based fraud prevention solutions.

So, as biometric authentication becomes more used in everyday life, deep fake technologies and videos evolve too and become more sophisticated. The growing concern that deep fakes could override current identity checks is more than valid and technology, and people behind it become more nefarious[4].

Protecting ourselves should become a priority

As identity thefts and possible fraud or blackmail that come with it could become more prominent, the main goal for us should be protecting ourselves and staying alert. Sure, legal bans are in order as it is unlawful to use human image synthesis to make pornography or use it in political election context in the US.

Cyber-security companies are working too as they are coming up with detection algorithms that could analyze the video image and spot the tiny distortions which are created in the ‘faking’ process. For example, jerky movements, shifts in lighting from one frame to the next, strange blinking, or lips poorly synched with speech are obvious signs[5].

However, basic security procedures are a must too. Everyone should educate themselves on how to spot a deepfake. Media literacy and the practice of “trust but verify” is a good tactic too. Obviously, regular device backups, strong password usage, and good security never hurt, so protect yourself, your computer and things should be fine.

About the author
Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The mastermind

Ugnius Kiguolis is a professional malware analyst who is also the founder and the owner of 2-Spyware. At the moment, he takes over as Editor-in-chief.

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