Deception in the 2020 Presidential Election Process — How Does This Affect Business Owners?

Deepfakes are an emerging cyber threat, and deepfake fraud is a new, potentially devastating issue for businesses.  Deepfakes came onto the public scene in 2017, and with time and technological advances, it has become a popular type of phishing scheme. Security experts anticipate that voice and video fraud will play a role in one of the next big data breaches.  As businesses and their employees become more knowledgeable in detecting traditional phishing attacks, cybercriminals can turn to deepfake technology to accomplish their goals.

Deepfake, a machine learning model, is used to create a form of manipulated videos that create hyper-realistic, artificial renderings.  The first deepfakes we witnessed were of those superimposing celebrities’ faces into adult videos.  The videos were of low quality, so they were recognized as fakes.  Today, the rate of deepfake video production has grown with software development, such as FakeApp, making it easy to create videos using face-swapping features.  Deepfake toolkits enable the generation of fake content using little material, skill, and time. 

Deepfake technology is centered around its potential for misinformation campaigns and manipulation through social media.  This is a powerful new tool for those who may want to use misinformation to influence an election, or successfully trick an employee. 

Deepfakes are a real threat to enterprises, but are cyber defense teams currently equipped to handle them? 

Social engineering attacks through phishing showed a sustained increase through 2019 and have now been worsened with the added layer of deepfakes, or voice phishing.  It is becoming more prevalent in eliciting fraudulent funds through Business Email Compromise (BEC). Deepfakes are going to make phishing attempts a lot more convincing as the technology becomes more sophisticated and we question what we are seeing.  Today, practically anyone can flood social media with fake content, which will give rise to phishing campaigns.

It is up to the public to decipher what is real.  What can you do day-to-day to combat this new threat?  

  • Be cognizant of the widespread manipulation of content.
  • Use multiple source verification.
  • Empower your employees to question and challenge requests that are deemed to be unusual.

Lawmakers in the US House of Representatives recently passed legislation to combat deepfakes, but the security industry currently has no appliances, email filters, or any technology to defend against them.  Your best defense is cybersecurity insurance.  Uncertainty lies ahead in our emerging digital world and Charles Leach can help you prepare for what’s coming.