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The Rise of Deepfakes

Ricky Carr

2 min read

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Imagine receiving a video message from a close friend claiming they have almost no cell reception but need immediate help getting home from what was supposed to be off-the-grid travel, but wound up being a nightmare trip. The friend is asking you to arrange for a Western Union money wire so they can pay their hotel bill and retrieve their passport. You hurry to arrange the money and wait to hear back. When you try their phone to confirm they’ve made it home, your friend answers and has no idea what you’re talking about.

Here’s another scenario: you get a rushed phone call from your college-aged child telling you they can’t talk now but they need to know their social security number to submit a school registration form. You read them their social security number, thinking nothing of the rushed “thanks – gotta go” as they hop off the phone. Several weeks later, your child reaches out distressed to have discovered they are the victim of identity theft. When you compare notes, you realize you had unwittingly provided their personal information to a “deepfake”.

“Deepfakes” are digitally altered images, audio, and video recordings, edited to replace someone’s voice or face. The FBI has issued a warning about the rise of “deepfakes” or malicious use of synthetic content by cybercriminals to trick unsuspecting targets into providing funds and personal information. Worse still, manipulated images and videos are being transformed into explicit content which bad actors threaten to circulate on social media, extorting passwords, credit cards, personal accounts and more from terrified victims.

How can you protect yourself? The FBI urges the public to exercise caution when sharing personal information online or over the phone. Always confirm that you are communicating with the intended recipient, and not a “deepfake”. When choosing privacy settings on social media, consider your audience, and what information you are comfortable sharing with followers and more importantly, strangers. 

If you are concerned about the rise in deepfakes, talk to Kraft Kennedy about how you can improve your security posture.