If you’re not familiar with the term “Deepfake,” you should make yourself aware and take action to try to protect yourself now, before it’s too late. A deepfake seems simple and harmless on the surface—a person’s voice and usually face are digitally interpolated into a different video--but the technology beneath is extremely powerful and growing so fast that the deepfakes are getting much harder to detect, and more destructive in nature.
Stop and think for a moment. How many pictures, videos, and audio of you exist online? What have you done to protect yourself in the context of your social media profiles and apps? It can be startling when you stop and think about it, and there are things you should do to protect yourself by keeping as much of your personal data as possible out of your social media profiles, run good virus scanning software, and most important, stay educated with good security practices. Odds are if you’re not a celebrity or world leader, you will hopefully never be the victim of a deepfake. Or will you?
You may have seen some of the recent deepfakes of presidents (former), CEOs, and other celebrities which can be damaging initially, but they’re usually found to be a fake sooner rather than later, and before any major damage is done. The problem with deepfakes is in the ability to detect deepfakes of the near future and how they will potentially be used for anything from ruining a someone’s career to causing a real conflict between nations. And what’s even worse is deepfakes are so readily available now that nearly anyone with a smart phone can create one relatively quickly.
Here are a few basic tips to protect yourself and, potentially, your company:
Do not include an abundance of personal information in your social media profiles, only what is required.
Use strong and different passwords for every site, MFA (multi factor authentication) is also highly recommended when available.
Use caution with links or attachments from friends or in emails, go get the information yourself if it looks suspicious. How do you know your friend or business partner wasn’t hacked right before you received a link from them?
Stay off Free Wi-Fi if you can, use it only as a last resort.
Only use secure web sites.
Use anti-virus software, firewalls, VPN, and any other security software you feel comfortable with.
Deepfakes have existed for decades, but this technology will likely be more destructive, more widely distributed, and harder to detect in the coming years. Plan now. If you are technically inclined, keep your less technical friends and family informed. The more awareness and action taken, the better.
By David Nicholls, Systems Engineer