The deepfake-scape: How to fight fraud in the digital age
By David Britton, VP of Strategy, Global ID & Fraud at Experian.
As the rush toward all things digital continues apace, both consumers and businesses are increasingly reliant on technology platforms and devices throughout their daily lives.
Unfortunately, the digital world is still largely an anonymous environment, within which it is difficult to always know who is on the other end of the wire. This uncertainty gives fraudsters an opening to threaten both businesses and consumers directly, especially in the realm of so-called ’Deepfakes’ – artificially created images, video and audio designed to emulate real human characteristics.
Chief among deepfake tactics is voice cloning, the practice of taking snippets of a recorded text from a person and then leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to understand speech patterns from those samples. Based on those learnings, the modeler can then use AI to apply that ’voice‘ to new texts/content that were never spoken by the actual voice owner – to be used for the fraudster’s own nefarious purposes.
For businesses and government leaders, this could mean access to points of vulnerability that put organizations at risk – or the proliferation of misinformation, which is a growing area of concern. For consumers, the risks include being duped into scams soliciting funds or accessing personal information – often by using voice cloning to successfully bypass biometric systems to which fraudsters wouldn’t otherwise have access.
There are however tools and best practices that can thwart such efforts. Most important and most constant is vigilance: fraudsters are relentless and always at work, looking to take advantage of every loophole or weak spot. For consumers, it is critical to stay on top of sensitive personal information that can be targeted and pay close attention to suspicious voice messages or calls that may sound like someone familiar yet feel slightly off – especially if the messages solicit personal information or cash.
As an emerging threat, deepfakes thrive on the reality that there is a great deal of technology at fraudsters’ disposal, especially machine learning and advanced analytics. Businesses therefore actually have an opportunity to fight fire with fire – leveraging these same capabilities (machine learning and advanced analytics) to fight these attacks, as Experian already does. A layered strategy of defenses is also key, particularly as it relates to how fraudsters may try to distribute or deploy these deepfakes, including identification checks such as verification, device ID and intelligence, behavioral analytics and document verification. It may sound obvious, but that first line of defense is critical – ensuring the right people (and the right people only) are accessing all possible points of vulnerability. The threat landscape is constantly evolving, so there’s arguably no more important point of focus than guarding the front door.
The risks and countermeasures on the table right now will likely be obsolete very soon, as this rapidly changing world of digital engagement continues to change. But while the nuances of technology deployed to keep fraud at bay may shift, core best practices should not – with awareness and vigilance, consumers and businesses alike can stay one step ahead of the deepfake traps that lie in wait.
About the author
David Britton brings a wealth of experience to his current position as Vice President, Industry Solutions within the Global ID and Fraud group at Experian, including both and a unique insight into the criminal methodology behind cyber fraud as well as an understanding of the evolving digital identity landscape. As one of the very first Internet fraud investigators, David played a central role in the development of cutting-edge fraud prevention technologies in the digital space.
DISCLAIMER: Biometric Update’s Industry Insights are submitted content. The views expressed in this post are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Biometric Update.