It seems that you can hardly believe anything you see on the internet anymore. The latest technology being used to fool people has to do with face-swapped videos called “Deepfakes”
Deepfakes are videos made to look like a certain person is saying or doing something, when in fact they never did.
This type of video takes “photoshopping” to a whole new level. Where using Photoshop to distort an image, such as putting someone’s head on another person’s body, is done to a still image, Deepfakes have sound and movement.
When people watch a video, they’re more likely to be fooled into believing what they are hearing and seeing is legitimate. However, what they’re watching could be totally bogus and end up leading to a phishing attack or other cybersecurity breach.
A Deepfake uses a face-swapping algorithm to put one person’s face (the “subject”) over another person’s face. The other person can be an actor or just another public figure that the faker has a lot of video footage for.
The Deepfake creator takes video from both the subject and the actor and feeds that into software that does the face-swapping between the two. What comes out can be a very realistic video that makes it seem like someone is saying something completely out of character.
Image from KSL Newsradio article
What’s Wrong With Deepfakes?
While some Deepfakes might be purely for fun, they can also be used for things like phishing, disinformation campaigns, stock manipulation, reputation damage, and other nefarious purposes.
If someone receives a video of their boss asking everyone in the company to update their payment details at a certain link, they’d be likely to believe it was real. While Deepfakes haven’t been reported to be used in this type of targeted phishing campaign yet, it’s only a matter of time.
Tips for Spotting a Deepfake Video
Is It Designed to Get a Reaction?
The first thing to ask yourself is whether this video is designed to get a reaction. Such as, “I can’t believe they would say that!” or “We really need to do something about this!”
Deepfakes are often designed to get an immediate reaction from people, so they’ll share, like, comment, and help the video creator get more interactions on their post.
If the video seems out of character for a person or is designed to get a reaction, then you may want to take a closer look to see if it’s for real.
Teeth That Don’t Look Real
One of the areas of the face that is difficult for the algorithm to get right is a subject’s teeth. So, if the teeth of the person in the video look “off” in some way or don’t look quite lined up with their mouth, then it’s most likely a Deepfake.
Signs of Lip Syncing
In some Deepfakes, the voice and lip movement won’t completely line up correctly and you’ll see signs that look like lip-synching.
Strange Eye Movement or Blinking
Eye movement is another factor that the software algorithm used for Deepfakes can get wrong when trying to match the two faces in the video.
Look for blinking that is too fast or strange eye movements as telltale signs of a fake video.
Irregularities Around the Edge of the Hair
It’s very difficult to crop around hair because it doesn’t have a smooth edge. Deepfake subjects are usually cropped and placed over the actor and background, this can lead to irregularities around the edges of the hair that you can spot.
Reflections That Don’t Make Sense
Any reflective surfaces like eyeglasses, retinas, or earrings could pick up a reflection that doesn’t make sense to the video background.
For example, if the video looks like it is shot in a city and there is a beach reflection in the subject’s glasses, there is a good chance the video has been faked.
The Face Isn’t Exhibiting the Right Emotion
There are multiple micro-expressions our faces make when we show emotion, and it’s easy for these to get smoothed over when going through the face-swapping process.
If the face of the person in the video seems to be too flat or not exhibiting the right emotion for what they are saying, this could mean that the video is a Deepfake.
Shadows and light that differ in the two videos being blended could also reveal a faked video. If you see any coloring that appears unnatural or see surfaces that look brighter than they should, this is another indicator the video is not legitimate.
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