Executives Need a Deep-Fake Defense Strategy

Gartner 30 Jun 2021 11:00

In March 2019, the CEO of a U.K. energy firm received an urgent call from his boss, the chief executive of the firm’s parent company in Germany. The German CEO instructed his subordinate to transfer €220,000 to a supplier in Hungary. The transfer of funds was urgent and needed to be completed within the hour. Since the CEO recognized his superior’s distinctive German accent and slightly melodious way of speaking, he immediately authorized the transfer. Unfortunately, the U.K. CEO was not speaking to his boss. He was speaking to an AI impersonating the German CEO.

Should business be terrified by this incident? Yes and no. Yes, because of the sophistication and success of the attack. And no, because it still takes considerable effort and resources to launch an attack like this and the target was a large, multinational corporation. This is about to change. The weapons to create disinformation will scale dramatically in two ways. First, it will become much easier for bad actors to launch many of these attacks, so that even a small percentage of success will make it worth their while. Second, powerful, easy-to-use, deepfake technologies in the hands of the many make it simple for anyone to launch an attack against somebody they wish to target for whatever reason.

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UKHungaryGermanyRAND Corporation
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