2018 was a big year for cybersecurity news, with ransomware and cryptojacking attacks on the rise, the official kickoff of GDPR, and an almost overwhelming number of data breaches that occurred seemingly daily. However, in my opinion, the most disturbing cybercrime development of 2018 was the large-scale introduction of deepfakes.
In today’s article, you’ll find out what deepfakes are and why they suggest a worrisome online future for all of us. You’ll also learn how outsourced IT support can help you defend against the business version of deepfakes.
In January 2018, a new app called FakeApp hit Reddit user boards. This software tool, created by an anonymous developer who goes only by his first initial, “N.”, enables users to create extremely realistic videos of anyone – doing anything. The technology is powerful and sophisticated, and it distills an incredibly complicated video-editing / AI-generation process into just a few steps… so, of course, the internet used this cutting-edge tool to generate new porn.
(Why do I always end up writing about porn on this blog? Mom, I promise, I actually do think about computers all day, every day!)
Mostly, the videos feature a celebrity’s face pasted on to a porn star’s body but, since my mom is probably reading this blog right now, I won’t go into more detail about that. Let’s move on.
Other uses for the technology are to make it seem like celebrities are saying things they would never say, such as in this video by Buzzfeed and Jordan Peele that shows “Barack Obama” insulting Donald Trump. Nick Cage features prominently in a series of deepfake videos. More insidious uses of the technology victimize everyday women by placing them in compromising positions online.
Collectively, these videos are called “deepfakes,” which is a portmanteau word that combines “deep learning” with “fake,” and is a reference to the deep learning AI technology that makes FakeApp so good at creating realistic videos.
Considering that the entire point of FakeApp is to generate fake videos, it’s hard to imagine any of this being put to good use in the future– but the true danger of deepfakes goes far beyond its current, extremely damaging uses.
Since deepfakes rely on the manipulation of images and sound to deliver a falsified video, the technology behind them makes us question our eyes and ears– two of our top senses for determining truth. Without those two senses guiding us, we’re left struggling to determine an objective reality, so in essence, deepfakes are like a blindfold for your senses that leave you unable to decipher what’s real and what’s fake online.
This is a serious problem for day-to-day life, but in the business world, it can be hard to imagine the impact a deepfake video could have long-term. After all, business leaders aren’t in the habit of interpreting reality and making important decisions for the future based on a random celebrity YouTube video.
Instead, businesses rely on objective data– which is where data manipulation attacks come in.
At your company, our company, and every single company across the world, data is one of the keys to success. Financial data helps us make strategic, multi-year plans; contact data helps us build loyal customers and follow up with good leads; and payroll data helps us pay our employees and ourselves fairly.
We all assume that the data we’re working with is accurate, but data manipulation attacks bring all of our assumptions into question.
In a data manipulation attack, cybercriminals break into your system using an unpatched leak, an unsecured admin password, or any of the other common security flaws, and quietly, surreptitiously, those cybercriminals change your system’s data. Criminals may do this for months and, depending on how your backup syncing is set up, they may also be able to corrupt the data in your backups as well.
Data manipulation attacks are hard to detect and therefore hard to stop. Just like deepfakes, they can cause quite a bit of damage. According to The Register, a leading online global tech publication, a data manipulation attack in 2016 targeted chemical delivery systems in a water treatment plant to subtly alter the chemicals in the water – and it doesn’t take much imagination to think about what could happen if a data manipulation attack impacted your business. It could result in subtly altered financial reports, payroll data, time tracking, patents for designs, or anything else you store digitally and, since data manipulation attacks make tiny changes, you may be unable to determine which data is real and which data is fake.
Though, sadly, it’s nearly impossible to protect yourself from ending up in a deepfake video if someone is determined to create one of you, it’s not too hard to protect your business from a likelihood of becoming the victim of a data manipulation attack. Avoidance simply requires you to enforce a good password policy, pay careful attention to details, and promptly apply patches and upgrades.
It also helps to work with an outsourced IT support company.
When you work with Interplay, you’ll gain the in-depth network security knowledge and cybersecurity expertise that only comes from working with one of Seattle’s longest-standing outsourced IT support companies. You’ll have a talented team that works around the clock to help you keep your systems patched and up-to-date at all times, and your systems will be constantly and securely monitored to ensure that there’s no suspicious activity going on that could suggest the presence of a data manipulation criminal.
In addition, working with Interplay will also get you strategic planning assistance from your on-demand CIO, and you’ll have a friendly, responsive, and knowledgeable team to instantly help out when you experience something unexpected with your computers or networks. Whether it’s an accidentally deleted document, a non-responsive mobile phone, a system bug causing a slowdown, or a disastrous cyberattack, you can trust Interplay’s outsourced IT support to quickly and effectively solve the problem and get your business back to its normal, fast-paced operations.
Best of all, there’s a way you can objectively assess what kind of service you’ll get when you work with the outsourced IT support team from Interplay: check out the testimonials scattered across each page of our website, so you can find out what other clients have said about us. Since we handle tech security all day, every day, we can assure you that our website is free of deepfakes and data manipulation – so you can trust the evidence of your eyes and ears when you find and read each glowing testimonial.
When you’re ready, request a quote from Interplay, so you can start planning for the full network protection your business deserves.
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