A disturbing story out of western Spain spotlights challenges of technological evolution. Unwitting children and teenagers were victims of users of a deepfake app. Their families, shocked at how the events transpired, are equally frustrated by how little recourse they feel they have. Deepfake technology, which leverages sophisticated artificial intelligence to create realistic yet fabricated images and videos, has seen a significant uptick in usage, a surge partly attributed to advancements in AI. As this technology becomes more accessible, concerns about its misuse, particularly in creating unauthorized or malicious content that mimics real individuals, are growing.
To protect yourself and your family from being victimized by deepfake technology, it is crucial to understand some steps you can take.
- Educate yourself and your family: Understanding what deepfakes are and how they can be misused is the first line of defense. Awareness can help you recognize potential deepfakes. Speak to your family about these three guidelines for identifying deepfakes:
- Look for contextual clues. Deepfakes don’t usually appear by themselves. Look at the webpage or social media post for possible hints that this isn’t a legitimate piece of content, such as poor grammar or spelling. And look for identifying information — names, dates, places, etc. — if reading a news story.
- Imagine it’s too good to be true. Especially if you are looking at content that seems outlandish or is offering something free or for very little money. Scammers use deepfakes to entice people into clicking ads or traveling to a dangerous site. Look for the headline elsewhere and pause for a moment if the story just seems too incredulous to be real.
- Put the content under a microscope. Perhaps not literally. Many AI engines still have trouble generating humans in images or videos. Closely examine content for weird distortions like extra fingers or smudged faces. These are telltale clues that the image is fake.
- Stay updated. Technology is constantly evolving. These days, new, accessible AI algorithms and apps they power seem to pop up daily. Do what you can to stay informed about the latest developments in AI and deepfake technology to adapt your protective measures accordingly. The FTC’s website, for example, has an ongoing series about how AI is evolving and what businesses and consumers alike can do to recognize AI-driven threats and protect against them.
- Tighten social media privacy settings: Limit who can view and share your posts on social media. By setting accounts to private and being mindful of who you add as friends or followers, you reduce the likelihood of your images being misused. If you’re a parent, ensure your young child isn’t creating social media accounts. If they’re old enough for an account, discuss with them the dangers of sharing content or messages with strangers or leaving their accounts unlocked.
- Limit your online footprint: Be cautious about what you share online. The less personal information and images available, the harder it is for someone to create a deepfake of you. It’s relatively easy to reconsider sharing photos of yourself, but you may not think twice before hitting “retweet” or “share” on someone else’s post. Before you do that, think carefully about the content you’re about to engage with.
- Use watermarks: When posting pictures online, consider using watermarks. This approach is a bit more time intensive, and it doesn’t altogether prevent deepfakes. But embedding a small graphic into photos can make it more difficult to use the images without revealing they’ve been altered.
- Monitor for your name and likeness: Set up Google Alerts or other similar form of alerts for your name. Getting a weekly email digest about your personal information will help automate content monitoring and maybe alert you to unauthorized uses of your likeness quickly. Identity monitoring software like McAfee’s can also help scour the internet for inappropriate uses of your likeness or identity. Our software also includes account cleanup and credit monitoring, among other features, to help you maintain privacy for your digital life.
- Report deepfakes: If you encounter a deepfake of yourself or someone you know, report it immediately to the platform where it’s posted. Also, consider contacting law enforcement if the deepfake is used for malicious purposes like defamation or blackmail.
- Use advanced security measures: As technology advances, attacks and fraud attempts will become more sophisticated. Cybercriminals are becoming adept at things like stealing and cloning voice snippets for use in deepfakes or biometrics-bypassing efforts. To thwart these unwanted advances, it may be necessary to fight fire with fire and leverage AI-driven protection solutions.
Modern tools can help enhance digital security
There may be no perfect solution to the dynamic threat of deepfake fraud. As technology advances, people will find novel ways to leverage it for means both innocent and otherwise. Yet, there are still strategies organizations and individuals can employ to help prevent deepfake fraud and to mitigate the impacts of it, should it occur. Sometimes, in an ever-more-complicated online world, the best bet may be to simplify. Adopting tools like our personal data cleanup solutions or our all-in-one security platform with identity protection can fortify protection against deepfakes and other forms of fraud. The digital landscape is evolving. The good news is, you can, too.
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