You've almost certainly been seeing stories on the internet this year about the growing trend of Deep Fakes.
They are videos that are expertly engineered to give the appearance of some prominent figure or another saying something that he or she never actually said.
It's a clever, computer generated ruse.
The reason it's been making headlines is that Deep Fakes tend to be really good, which makes them notoriously difficult to spot. Their recent appearance, unfortunately, is negatively impacting the national dialogue on important issues. After all, when you're looking at what appears to be evidence of a prominent figure saying something shocking, of course you're going to be inclined to believe your own eyes.
Naturally, it did not take the hackers of the world long to figure out a way to use this relatively new technology to their benefit. Recently, a UK energy company's CEO was tricked into wiring more than $220,000 USD to a Hungarian supplier. He believed that he had received verbal instructions from his boss to do exactly that, and merely complied with the order.
The only problem? His boss issued no such order. It actually came from a hacker using deep fake software to precisely mimic the voice of the executive demanding that his underling pays the supplier within the hour.
A spokesman for the company's insurance firm had this to say about the matter:
"The software was able to imitate the voice, and not only the voice: the tonality, the punctuation, the German accent."
Energy company employees caught onto the ruse when the hacker made a similar demand a short time later that same day. The second time though, the energy firm CEO called his boss personally, only to discover that he was simultaneously dealing with his fake boss and the real one.
There's no way to know how many times this has happened before, or how frequently it's happening now. Even worse, our ability to create deep fakes presently far outstrips our ability to detect them. That should give business owners everywhere pause.