Is That Video Real? Deepfakes and the AI Threat: How to Protect Yourself


Here’s a question for readers of this article:

Is this person real?

Before I provide the answer, let’s get the definition of a deepfake out of the way.

“Deepfake” refers to artificial audio or video that has been digitally manipulated to replace one person’s likeness with another, or to bring an inanimate object, like a picture or a painting, to life. The term also refers to computer-generated depictions of fictional human characters that have never existed.

So, back to the original question: is the man in the above video real?

Apparently, yes. But he never recorded that video.

In the last 24 hours, the tech world has been buzzing about Microsoft’s new video generator, Vasa-1.

From just a single image, a person can be artificially brought to life. This breakthrough has potential for harmless fun and creativity, as with the next video showing how Vasa can even make inanimate objects speak:

But the implications for mischief grow larger by the day.

For instance, in my most recent blog post, I included a link to a story from Hong Kong. It told the tale of a finance department who wired $25 million after joining a Zoom meeting with his CFO, who explained why they were making this unusual transfer. Problem was, the CFO was a deepfake, as was everyone else on that video.

Sometimes, cybersecurity means enacting policies that are not technical in nature. If your business doesn’t have a plan in place for employees calling to verify payment requests, for example, you’re playing with fire.

And there are even implications for your personal life. Audio can be deepfaked, too. If your “child” calls saying he or she has been “kidnapped” and that you need to send money to secure their release, will you have a plan in place to quickly verify if that’s actually your kid?

Unfortunately, these deepfakes will only get better over time. And it may be difficult to prevent someone from copying your voice or likeness, but all hope isn’t lost. Here are two articles with useful tips specifically about guarding against deepfakes:

Deepfake Defense: Your 8-Step Shield Against Digital Deceit

How to Protect Yourself from Deepfakes: 13 Tips to Follow

Plan ahead, practice sensible online habits and as always, stay vigilant!

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