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Sep 1, 2023
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DEEPFAKE AND IDENTITY THEFT: SAFEGUARDING PERSONAL INFORMATION IN THE DIGITAL AGE

Written by

Dr. Vivekananth Padmanabhan|HOD-IT|Senior Lecturer IT&Business|Cyber Security Trainer

Have you seen that viral video of Tom Cruise doing a magic trick or Barack Obama calling Donald Trump names?

Pretty crazy, right?

But what if I told you neither is real?

With the rise of fake technology, you can’t believe everything you see online.

Deepfakes are hyper-realistic fake videos and audios created using AI that can make people appear to do or say things they never actually did. They are getting pretty good now.

Remember that movie Wag the Dog, where they faked a war?

We now have the ability to fake anything and make it look legit.

Wild, isn’t it?

So how do we save ourselves from being victims of identity theft in this era of viral deepfakes?

Well, let’s first look at how deepfakes can enable identity theft and fraud.

Imagine you get a call from your friend Susan asking for money to deal with an emergency. But unbeknownst to you, it’s not really Susan, but a scammer using AI software to mimic her voice.

Weird?

Not any more.

You may get an email from your bank manager asking for your account details to unlock your account. But surprise, it’s just a fraudster using a perfectly crafted, deep-fake video of your bank manager to con you.

Deepfakes can enable criminals to impersonate anyone and spread misinformation convincingly. And we all know misinformation is a recipe for disaster. Just think about all those public health myths during the pandemic or political hoaxes that led to riots. Deepfakes stand to make this much worse.

So what can we do to avoid being duped?

Here are 5 tips:

  1. Strengthen your online privacy and limit personal information sharing. Don’t overshare.
  1. Use multi-factor authentication for accounts whenever possible.
  1. Be skeptical of unbelievable videos or calls from trusted people asking for money or information. Verify before acting.
  1. Monitor your credit report and accounts regularly for any suspicious activity.
  1. Educate yourself on deepfake technology so you can better identify fakes.

But let’s not get too paranoid. Despite the risks, deepfakes also have many creative applications.

Remember when the late Paul Walker was brought back posthumously for the Fast and Furious movie using deepfake? Or how about all those fun celebrity face-swap apps?

So it’s not all bad.

The key is awareness and vigilance.

As Obi-Wan Kenobi would say “Be mindful of the living force, young Padawan!”.

So enjoy the online world, but be alert.

And together, let’s make the digital space safer for all.

Do you have any other tips to share?

The more we know, the better we can protect ourselves from identity theft in this era of viral deepfakes.

May the fakes never be with you!

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