Cyber Security News

What is Deepfake (and are the risks real)?

Deepfakes, which refer to manipulated or synthesised media content using artificial intelligence techniques, pose significant challenges to cybersecurity.

While deepfakes can have various applications, including entertainment and creative industries, they also have the potential for misuse and exploitation.

From a cybersecurity perspective, deepfakes can impact individuals, organisations, and society in several ways:


    Identity Theft

    Deepfake technology poses a significant threat when it comes to identity theft. With its ability to manipulate and forge realistic audiovisual content, deep fakes can be leveraged to impersonate individuals, leading to a cyber attack with devastating consequences for their identities and personal lives.

    By superimposing someone's face onto another person's body or altering their voice, cybercriminals can create convincing deep fake videos or audio that mimic the appearance and mannerisms of the target. These deepfakes can then be used to deceive unsuspecting individuals, organisations, or even automated systems.


    Phishing Attacks

    Phishing attacks involve the use of deceptive techniques to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information such as login credentials, financial details, or personal data. Deepfakes can significantly enhance the effectiveness of phishing attacks by creating highly realistic and convincing scenarios.

    By employing deepfakes, cybercriminals can manipulate audio or video content to impersonate trusted individuals or entities, such as colleagues, friends, or even company executives. These deep fake messages can be delivered through various channels, including email, messaging apps, or social media platforms, making it difficult for targets to distinguish between genuine and fraudulent communication.

    For instance, a deep fake video message may imitate a CEO instructing an employee to share sensitive company data or transfer funds to a fraudulent account. The realistic appearance and voice of the deep fake can deceive the employee into complying with the attacker's demands, resulting in significant financial losses or data breaches.


    Reputation Damage

    The ability to create realistic and convincing fake videos or images can be exploited to spread false information, defame individuals, or damage the reputation of organisations. The consequences of deep fake-enabled reputational damage can be severe, affecting personal lives, careers, and public trust.

    One way deep fakes can be used for reputational damage is by creating fabricated videos or images that depict individuals engaging in inappropriate or compromising activities.

    These manipulated visual materials can be disseminated online, rapidly spreading through social media platforms and other channels. Even though the deepfakes are entirely fabricated, they can deceive viewers and cause irreparable harm to the target's reputation and relationships.

    Another concern is the creation of deep fake audio recordings.

    Cybercriminals can manipulate someone's voice to fabricate false statements or conversations that can be damaging when leaked or released to the public. These audio deepfakes can be used to impersonate individuals, politicians, or celebrities, leading to misinformation, public outrage, and reputational harm.


    Misinformation & Disinformation

    Misinformation refers to false or misleading information, while disinformation involves the deliberate creation and dissemination of false information with the intent to deceive or manipulate public opinion. Deepfakes can amplify the impact of such false narratives by creating convincing audiovisual content that appears authentic.

    Deepfake-enabled misinformation and disinformation campaigns can have serious consequences for individuals, organisations, and society as a whole. From political campaigns, conspiracy theories, and false news reports, the negative impact of deep fakes is very real for modern societies.


    Social Engineering Attacks

    One of the most concerning aspects of deep fake-enabled identity theft is the potential for social engineering attacks.

    By impersonating someone known to the victim, such as a friend, family member, or colleague, attackers can exploit established trust to manipulate victims into revealing sensitive information or performing actions that compromise their security.

    For example, a deep fake video of a close friend requesting financial assistance may prompt an individual to transfer money to an attacker-controlled account, unknowingly falling victim to a scam.

    So how do you protect yourself from this emerging use of technology out there in the real world?

    Practising good cybersecurity hygiene means you can reduce the likelihood of your personal information being compromised in a cyberattack or used to create deep fakes.

    Not surprisingly, this includes taking steps to protect your online accounts and devices. Using strong, unique passwords for all your accounts, enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible and regularly updating your software and devices to protect against vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers.

    But that's not all we can do.

    It's important to develop critical thinking skills.

    Developing critical thinking skills is crucial to detect and mitigate the risks associated with deep fakes.

    Be sceptical of media content that seems suspicious or too good to be true.

    Look for signs of manipulation, such as unnatural facial movements or inconsistencies in audio quality. Fact-check information from multiple reliable sources before believing or sharing it.

    Fundamentally, developing a healthy level of scepticism can help you identify potential deep fakes and avoid falling victim to their deceptive nature.

    If you're ever in doubt, stop, pause for a moment to take a breath and reach out to the team at Cyber Heroes for advice.