Danger of posting selfies, videos in the era of deepfakes

Aussies who post selfies and videos of themselves online are unwittingly putting themselves at risk of an insidious practice, an expert warns.

Australians are being warned of the risks associated with posting images and videos of themselves online as more cyber criminals take advantage and use them to create deepfakes.

Deepfakes are videos of a person that have been digitally altered to appear to be someone else. They can be used maliciously or to spread false information.

Former US President Barack Obama and Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg are some of the well known public figures that have been victims to such videos.

On National Selfie Day this Tuesday, a tech expert warned of the dangers associated with posting online and how it could impact anyone.

Cyber ​​security company Netskope’s chief security officer David Fairman warned fake videos could be created more frequently as technology became more sophisticated and accessible.

Mr Fairman, who is a Deakin University professor and former chief security officer at National Australia Bank, said cyber criminals used DeepFakes for extortion and fraud and could manipulate voice authentication mechanisms like those used for online banking.

“A few years ago, deepfakes were more difficult (to generate), but now there is good software and capabilities for individuals to create them,” he said

“Some deepfakes are used for humor based purposes or entertainment … but any capability can be maliciously used and criminals are using that and leveraging that.”

As well as financial dangers, Mr Fairman said the videos also posed a risk to a person’s reputation.

But he said numerous data sources were needed to train the algorithm used to create such videos, which was why celebrities were easier targets.

Australians have been advised to validate all information and use reputable sources when consuming information and not believe everything they saw online.

Mr Fairman said people needed to be alert, but not alarmed, and encouraged social media users to maximize their privacy settings to better protect themselves.

“If you really wanted to minimize the risk, people wouldn’t have any digital images, videos or sound bites of themselves at all, but that’s not realistic,” he said.

“There is a bit of personal responsibility — just like we do with credit card or banking details — to think about their digital images of themselves.”


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