The Real Deal on Deepfakes: How to Identify and Protect Yourself

Have you ever seen a video of your favourite celebrity saying something outrageous, only to find out later it was completely fabricated? Or perhaps you’ve received an urgent email seemingly from your boss, but something felt off.

Welcome to the world of deepfakes, a rapidly evolving technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to create synthetic media, often in the form of videos or audio recordings that appear real but are actually manipulated.

While deepfakes can be used for creative purposes, such as satire or entertainment, their potential for misuse is concerning. Deepfakes have already made their way into political campaigns. In 2024, a fake robocall mimicked the voice of a candidate, attempting to fool people into believing they said something they never did.

Bad actors use deepfakes to spread misinformation, damage reputations, and even manipulate financial markets. They are also used in phishing attacks. Knowing how to identify different types of deepfakes is crucial in today’s world.

What Are the Different Types of Deepfakes, and How Can You Spot Them?

Face-Swapping Deepfakes

This is the most common type, where the face of one person is seamlessly superimposed onto another’s body in a video. These can be quite convincing, especially with high-quality footage and sophisticated AI algorithms.

Here’s how to spot them:

  • Look for inconsistencies: Pay close attention to lighting, skin tones, and facial expressions. Do they appear natural and consistent throughout the video? Look for subtle glitches such as hair not moving realistically or slight misalignments around the face and neck.
  • Check the source: Where did you encounter the video? Was it on a reputable news site or a random social media page? Be cautious of unverified sources and unknown channels.
  • Listen closely: Does the voice sound natural? Does it match the person’s typical speech patterns? Incongruences in voice tone, pitch, or accent can be giveaways.

Deepfake Audio

This type involves generating synthetic voice recordings that mimic a specific person’s speech patterns and intonations. Scammers can use these to create fake audio messages, making it seem like someone said something they didn’t.

Here’s how to spot them:

  • Focus on the audio quality: Deepfake audio can sound slightly robotic or unnatural, especially when compared to genuine recordings of the same person. Pay attention to unusual pauses, inconsistent pronunciation, or strange emphasis.
  • Compare the content: Does the content of the audio message align with what the person would typically say or within the context in which it’s presented? Consider if the content seems out of character or contradicts known facts.
  • Seek verification: Is there any independent evidence to support the claims made? If not, approach it with healthy scepticism.

Text-Based Deepfakes

This emerging type of deepfake uses AI to generate written content, such as social media posts, articles, or emails, mimicking the writing style of a specific person or publication. These can be particularly dangerous as scammers use them to spread misinformation or impersonate someone online.

Here’s how to spot them:

  • Read critically: Pay attention to the writing style, vocabulary, and tone. Does it match the way the person or publication typically writes? Look for unusual phrasing, grammatical errors, or inconsistencies in tone.
  • Check factual accuracy: Verify the information presented in the text against reliable sources. Don’t rely solely on the content itself for confirmation.
  • Be wary of emotional triggers: Be cautious of content that evokes strong emotions such as fear, anger, or outrage. Scammers may be using these to manipulate your judgement.

Deepfake Videos with Object Manipulation

This type goes beyond faces and voices, using AI to manipulate objects within real video footage by changing their appearance or behaviour. Bad actors may use this to fabricate events or alter visual evidence.

Here’s how to spot them:

  • Observe physics and movement: Pay attention to how objects move in the video. Does their motion appear natural and consistent with the laws of physics? Look for unnatural movement patterns, sudden changes in object size, or inconsistencies in lighting and shadows.
  • Seek original footage: If possible, try to find the original source of the video footage. This can help you compare it to the manipulated version and identify alterations.

Staying vigilant and applying critical thinking are crucial in the age of deepfakes. Familiarise yourself with the different types, learn to recognise potential red flags, and verify information through reliable sources. These actions will help you become more informed and secure.

Get a Device Security Checkup

Criminals are using deepfakes for phishing. Just by clicking on one, you may have downloaded a virus. A device security checkup can give you peace of mind. We’ll take a look for any potential threats and remove them.

Contact us today to learn more.