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Why Deepfakes Are the New Frontier for Threat Actors

In an era where information is digitized and communication is increasingly mediated by technology, the rise of deepfakes presents a formidable challenge to cybersecurity. These sophisticated manipulations of audio and video content, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), have captured the attention of threat actors seeking new avenues for deception and manipulation.

Trevor Collins, a Network Security Engineer at WatchGuard Technologies, sheds light on why deepfakes have become an attractive tool for threat actors. "Because they’re getting easier and cheaper to make and use at scale," Collins explains. "For instance, with voice phishing (or vishing), automation makes it easy to mass dial thousands of numbers and leave messages or redirect calls that are answered to human scammers. There are basically call centers set up to do this."

Indeed, the democratization of deepfake technology has lowered the barriers to entry, empowering malicious actors with the means to orchestrate elaborate scams and social engineering attacks. Collins highlights the emergence of deepfake audio generators, which enable scammers to mimic someone's voice convincingly using just a limited sample. "Literally anyone who’s ever been on video or a podcast could have their voice cloned and used in a scam," he warns.

The implications are staggering. Imagine receiving a call that sounds exactly like your boss, only to discover that it's an impersonator manipulating AI-generated audio. Such scenarios blur the lines between reality and fiction, exploiting trust and exploiting vulnerabilities in human cognition.

But it doesn't stop there. Collins underscores the rapid advancements in AI technology, which now enable real-time manipulation of video content. "And, by the way, there are now generative AI tools that can do video in real time as well," he adds. This development opens up a new frontier for threat actors, allowing them to fabricate convincing video footage with alarming ease.

So why are deepfakes so alluring to threat actors? The answer lies in their potency as a tool for deception and manipulation. Whether it's impersonating authority figures, fabricating evidence, or spreading disinformation, deepfakes offer unparalleled capabilities to those with malicious intent.

As the threat landscape evolves, cybersecurity professionals must remain vigilant in combating the proliferation of deepfakes. The stakes are high, and the consequences of inaction are severe. By understanding the allure of deepfakes to threat actors, we can better prepare ourselves to defend against this emerging threat and safeguard the integrity of digital communication.


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