Understand: How deepfake videos work to trick online users

By Tiffany Huertas - Video Journalist

SAN ANTONIO - A local cybersecurity company is keeping a close eye on deepfake videos and the effect they could have on online users.

The Democratic National Committee had experts create a deepfake video to demonstrate the potential threat it could have on the 2020 election. It was shown earlier this year at Def Con, one of the largest conventions for hackers.

“It's a fabricated video using a known individual, maybe a political leader or maybe even somebody that could be a senior in the chain of command in the Department of Defense activity or unit if you will, and so they basically have taken, you know, images, multiple images, from the internet ... to consolidate pictures into a video, so they can basically provide voice-overs,” said Jeff Medina, director of business development and cyber strategy for IPSecure.

Cybersecurity companies such as IPSecure are racing to beat deepfakes.

Medina said when dealing with deepfakes, it's more than just the video messages you should be concerned about. He said if you click on these videos, you could be subject to ransomware or other types of threats.

“So the video message in itself, right, can definitely drive new videos that you'd get, right, for political affiliations or using artificial intelligence. They can, you know, kind of gear what they're going to send you via social media or email, etc., but definitely the big threat is the nefarious activity that would occur behind the scenes,” Medina said. 

Medina said the videos are used for a variety of reasons.

“It could be anybody from just making entertainment videos. We see things as slimy as pornography or folks just making memes or videos that, you know, were funny to put on social media. But, absolutely, we have to assume that state actors from other countries that we would consider an adversary are definitely developing new capability to be able to inject in our networks and traverse all both DoD and intelligence community networks,” Medina said.

Medina said you should protect yourself from any possible threats by creating a plan.

“I think folks really need to take this serious and organizations really need to develop a user education program, whether it be for information assurance, risk management and just making sure that you get your users educated, so they know what to and what not to click on,” Medina said.

Medina said to be aware of all videos from any untrusted sources and also be sure to keep your malware detection software up to date.

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