Why Deepfake Technology is Both a Strength and Danger for Organizations

KEY TAKEAWAYS

With the global deepfake software market size valued at $72.41 million in 2023, businesses may need to pay attention to both the strengths and dangers of deepfakes — they can be useful in some situations, but also can lead to scams and reputational damage.

Deepfakes — a type of synthetic media that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to hatch hyper-realistic fabrications across videos, images, texts and audio forms — have never caught our attention as much as they’ve done in recent times.

Probably because they lacked the level of ubiquity they command now, or we felt it was something confined to the social media playing ground, where we see users manipulate their faces and voices with all manner of filters and, therefore, care less about their implications beyond the realm of social media. 

Whatever the case is, the fact is that the advancements in AI have deepened the roots and accelerated the spread of deepfakes. With the global deepfake software market size valued at $72.41 million in 2023 and expected to hit $1.2 billion in 2032, there is every chance that the deepfake landscape will continue to grow in sophistication and use. And like every tech innovation, deepfakes will offer us a duality of use — the positive and dangerous sides.

The Dangerous Side of Deepfakes

A quick googling of ‘AI deepfake generator tools’ will leave your mouth agape and face wincing as to the ease at which an average person can access tools with which they can create hard-to-decern deepfakes within a few minutes.

A recent survey shows that by 2024, about 95% of consumers in the U.S. will have fallen victim to a deepfake. The U.S.National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, in a recent report, warned that there is a significant danger arising from the misuse of deepfake (PDF), emphasizing that this can jeopardize an organization’s brand and can be used to mimic key figures such as leaders and financial officers for deceptive communications.

Speaking to Techopedia on the dangers of deepfakes, Jigyasa Grover, senior data scientist at Faire, noted that deepfakes are now the leading propagator of misinformation on the internet. She cited instances of celebrity pornography, hoax calls, tweaked videos of political leaders to induce conflict and many more.

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Bloomberg recently cited that some videos used to portray victims of the tragedy in various languages on the Hamas-Isreali war are deepfakes, noting that TikTok is struggling to take them down. 

In its 2023 Deepfake Threat Report, KPMG shared an incident where a branch manager in Hong Kong was tricked into transferring $35 million of company money to scammers. The manager thought he was following his boss’s orders on the phone, but it turned out to be a scam. The scammers used AI to clone the supervisor’s voice, leading to significant financial loss for the company.

There are other instances of deepfakes on the internet targeted at public figures, like the video that circulated on social media mid-last year deceptively showing Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, announcing a surrender.

A deepfake video footage of Mr. Zelensky asking Ukrainians
Deepfake video footage of Mr. Zelensky – Credit BBC

While the above scenarios sound like some apocalyptic cadence, all hope is not lost, as there are some positive sides to using deepfakes that organizations can leverage.

Deepfakes as a Strength for Organizations

Despite the evident dangers posed by deepfakes, some experts still believe that organizations can effectively harness the benefits while mitigating the associated risks.

Using deepfake technologies opens up various possibilities, such as enhancing simulation-based training scenarios without involving real individuals and market content creation, claims Tim Green, Chief Operations Officer, GoTeamUp.

Green explained:

“This technology could enable us to create realistic scenarios without involving real individuals, enhancing the effectiveness of our training programs. However, it’s crucial to establish ethical guidelines to prevent misuse.”

He further notes that organizations can take advantage of deepfakes to market content creation as it could provide more creative ways to engage with our audience. “But it’s essential to maintain transparency and inform customers when such technology is used to maintain trust and credibility,” he added.

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In a statement made available to Techopedia, Josh Amishave, Founder and CEO of BreachSense, details that organizations can leverage deepfake for their chatbots and customer service representatives. When used at this level, deepfakes will be able to engage with customers in a more compelling and realistic way, ultimately enhancing user and customer experiences.

Amishave also points to the educational use case of deepfakes. “Organizations can benefit from deepfake technology in areas like training. They can be used to create interactive simulations, historical reenactments, and personalized learning experiences.”

Spotting Deepfakes

Given the advancements in AI, spotting deepfakes is one of the hardest things to do. Although there are deepfake detection tools like the Intel Real-Time Deepfake Detector, Sentinel, and Weverify, statistics still show that deepfakes accounted for most of the AI-powered fraud techniques recorded by firms in 2023.

This underscores the widespread inability to spot deepfake at a high accuracy. Reacting to this, Heather Lowrie, CISO of the University of Manchester, notes that “threats from synthetic media, such as deepfakes, present a growing challenge and spotting them is still a great challenge for the public.” 

“We will need to develop effective measures to detect, prevent and respond to deepfake threats and attacks on the integrity of information. Education and awareness campaigns have an important part to play in combating the threat of deepfakes. We can expect to see new legal and ethical frameworks developed around deepfake technology in 2024.”

Very little can provide the accessible level of information integrity we need to effectively combat deepfakes, says James Bore, CEO of Bores Group. “While there are ways to guarantee that information is genuine, it is much more challenging to prove that information is false unless those methods become universal. With their limited usage and accessibility, we’re left only with AI authenticity checkers, which means we are effectively in an informational arms race between the two,” he explained.

Deepfake Tips for Organizations

Theo Zafirakos, Cyber Risk and Information Security Professional at Fortra, notes that the increasing prevalence of deepfakes requires that people try as much as possible to stay away and pay close attention.  

Below are recommended tips to help organizations detect deepfakes according to Zafirakos: 

  • Conduct a visual analysis of the content you are viewing. Deepfakes created with image generators often produce “wonky” fingers, smudges, and other oddities not found in authentic photos.
  • Look at the eyes. Deepfake videos often have irregular blinking patterns or lack light reflections in both eyes.
  • Zoom in. Look for digital anomalies, odd skin tones, and smudges between faces and backgrounds.
  • Assess movement quality. Look for robotic movements, a lack of tongue movement, and mismatched lips.
  • Verify that the video or voice clip comes from a known and trusted source.
  • Start phone conversations with colleagues using secret passwords or special questions. If the speaker can’t oblige, it might be a voice clone.

The Bottom Line

At the rate deepfake is going, it’s fair to say that seeing is no longer believing. Although deepfake detection technologies are being developed with some success, they are not as fast as fraudsters are forging ahead with devious uses. Organizations and individuals must arm themselves with knowledge and skills to avoid falling victim to harmful deepfake attacks.

Also, Green highlights the need to develop policies that will guide the use of deepfakes. “Relevant bodies from government down to organizations need to establish clear policies for using deepfakes and ensure strict enforcement. These policies would serve as a guide for using deepfakes, ensuring that everyone understands the boundaries and consequences.”

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Franklin Okeke

Franklin has been covering tech and cybersecurity for over 5 years. His work has appeared on TechRepublic, The Register, TechInformed, Computing, ServerWatch, and Moonlock, among others.