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How Deepfakes Can Ruin Your Business
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[Image: heimdal-logo.svg]

And How You Can Keep Your Organization Safe

Worldwide concern is increasing over the adverse effects that deepfakes could have on society, and for good reason. Recently, the employee of an energy company based in the UK was tricked into thinking he was talking on the phone with his boss, the CEO of the German parent company, who asked him to transfer $243,000 to a Hungarian supplier. Of course, the employee was not speaking with the actual CEO, but with a scammer who was impersonating the real CEO through voice-altering AI.

This kind of social engineering attack is not new. In fact, merely two months ago, cybersecurity researchers identified three successful deepfake audio attacks on companies. Their “CEO” called a financial officer to ask for an urgent money transfer. The voices of the real CEO had been taken from earnings calls, YouTube videos, TED talks, and other recordings, and inserted into an AI program which enabled fraudsters to imitate the voices.

These types of incidents are the audio version of what are known as deepfake videos, which have been causing global panic for the past couple of years. As we become accustomed to the existence of deepfakes, this may affect our trust in any videos we see or audio footage we hear, including the real ones. Videos, which once used to be the ultimate form of truth that transcended edited pictures that can be easily altered, can now deceive us as well.

And this brings us to the question:

How safe is your business in the face of the deepfake threat?

What are Deepfakes?

Deepfakes are fake video and audio footage of individuals, that are meant to make them look like they have said and done things which, in fact, they haven’t. “Deep” relates to the “deep learning” technology used to produce the media and “fake” to its artificial nature. Most of the time, the faces of people are superimposed on the bodies of others, or their actual figure is altered in such a way that it appears to be saying and doing something that they never did.

The term was born in 2017 when a Reddit user posted a fake adult video showing the faces of some Hollywood celebrities. Later, the user also published the machine learning code used to create the video.

Can we detect and stop Deepfakes?

Right now, researchers and companies are investigating how they can utilize AI to distinguish and wipe out deepfakes. New advancements have started to rise that are meant to help us identify which pictures and recordings are real and which are fake.

For example, Facebook, Microsoft, the Partnership on AI coalition, and academics from several universities are launching a contest to help improve the detection of deepfakes. They aim to encourage people to produce a technology that can be used by anyone to detect when deepfake material has been created. The Deepfake Detection Challenge will feature a data set and leaderboard, alongside grants and awards, to motivate participants to design new methods of identifying and stopping fake footage meant to deceive others.

Yet, this won’t prevent the fake media from being created, shared, seen and heard by millions of people before it is removed. And without doubt, it can be extremely difficult to face the consequences and repair the damage once malicious materials get distributed.
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