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Ransomware has been keeping the security teams and the world on its toes. The security challenges of the ever-expanding galaxy of Internet of Things devices and of cloud computing have added extremely complex dimensions to the ever-fragile cyber security scenario. If this was not enough, we are already in the age of digital imposters, it is a coming wave for sure, better known as the world of deep fakes. Deepfakes use artificial intelligence and deep learning techniques to make fake images, now as good as real, of people and events. Deepfakes are the next big thing in cyber security, taking the challenge to the next level.

Tackling deepfakes is going to be tough. A normal person will not be able to differentiate between the real and the fake, and that is where the problem begins. With every passing day, deepfakes are getting better at mimicking real people. Given this emerging scenario, you would accept that it would become a problem for everyone. You don’t know when you are getting duped. The current scamsters would start looking puny. One surreal scenario; think of a conference call taking place inside an office, but how do you convincingly know that the person on the other side of the call is really who they say they are.

On date you have no tech assistance at hand to handle such a crisis. You wouldn’t even know if it was a crisis. The impact might be devastating; it can be anything. In one recent case mayor of Berlin thought he was having an online meeting with former boxing champion and current mayor of Kyiv, Vital Klitschko, which turned out to be a conversation with a deepfake, an AI generated fake video, looking real. Previous deepkfake videos had some tell-tale signs that something wasn’t real; edit or odd movements. Not anymore.

Cyber criminals are already using this technology marvel for stealing money. While ransomware generates more headlines, business email compromise (BEC) is the costliest form of cyber crime today. Spoofing and phishing we are all aware of and still we fall for it, at least in specific, supposedly authentic scenarios. But if the cyber criminals use deepfake videos at the other end, it would be much more difficult to deny the request. Imagine your boss speaking to you on camera. Most companies put at least some details of their top shots on the website. Public information can be misused to create deepfake. Scammers have used this successfully over the phone as well. Deepfakes are applying for remote IT support jobs to get access to sensitive information. It is also being used to influence foreign operations. The FBI has issued advice on how to spot a deepfake. But deepfakes are bound to be a new vector of cybercrime.

Sanjay Sahay

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