Deepfake is n’t just for creating fun celebrity videos or enhancing special effects for movies. This technology has become a danger, a factory of deception very difficult to control .
Scams over the phone with this technique are not new, hackers have long used machine learning to give their scams more credibility. But it is the first time that we can listen to the audio of a telephone deepfake .
The security consulting firm NISOS has published a report analyzing one of these frauds and has shared with Motherboard magazine a fragment of the telephone conversation so that the quality of the audio generated with the computer program can be appreciated. Here’s part of that clip.
This audio is part of a voicemail sent to a company employee. The voice that has been tried to falsify is that of the CEO of the company and in the audio it asks the employee to come immediately to end an urgent business.
The voice is somewhat robotic, but close enough to that of the real person to fool another in a pinch. Let’s imagine that this employee is the most recent to enter the company, insecurity can work against him. However, the fraud in the end was unsuccessful.
NISOS researcher Rob Volkert explained to Motherboard that audio can definitely pass through a human’s voice, although it doesn’t sound “CEO enough”. The employee who received the message suspected the mail and sent it to the legal department .
The important thing about this case is to see how this technology is getting closer to a plausible imitation and whose ease of use will make this type of fraud more popular . Scammers just need to collect a good number of audios from that person. In the case of company directors it is easier because they give interviews, conferences and many calls to close businesses.
The more data we have, the more accurate and realistic the audios will be, such as the one made by radio commentator Joe Rogan . It is practically impossible to tell the fake audio from the real one.
How to avoid being victims of a phone deepfake
There are many cases of scams of this type and there will be more, one of the best known is that of a CEO of a UK energy company who in 2019 sent 220,000 euros to a Hungarian supplier . The order to make the transfer had been given to him by the CEO of his parent company in Germany, or his forged voice. They told him that it was urgent and after getting the money, the criminals disappeared, they have not yet been caught.
In suspicious cases, it is best not to give any important information over the phone and if there is any doubt, however slight, it is better to hang up and call that person again to verify that it is them. Unless they are a very sophisticated group and have programs to redirect the call, we will find out whether or not that person is who they say they are.