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Unveiling the deepfake dilemma – risks and realities for banks

Delve into the unsettling realm of deepfakes, where the lines between reality and deception blur.

In this tech blog, I will uncover the emerging risks associated with deepfake technology and explore the profound impact it can have on the banking sector.

Brace yourself for a journey through the challenges and implications of a world where authenticity is no longer guaranteed.

Understanding Deepfake Technology

Before delving into the complex landscape of deepfake technology, it is crucial to grasp the fundamentals. Deepfakes represent an innovative form of synthetic media generated by powerful artificial intelligence algorithms. These algorithms manipulate audio, images, and videos with remarkable precision, creating content that is deceptively realistic and often indistinguishable from genuine footage.
At the heart of deepfake technology lies a sophisticated neural network architecture capable of analysing and replicating intricate patterns in human behaviour. By studying vast datasets of facial expressions, vocal inflections, and body movements, these algorithms learn to mimic the nuances of human interaction with unprecedented accuracy. The result is a seamless fusion of digital manipulation and human performance, blurring the boundaries between reality and illusion in ways never before imagined.
From a technical standpoint, deepfakes leverage a technique known as generative adversarial networks (GANs), where two neural networks, the generator, and the discriminator, engage in a continuous cycle of competition and refinement. The generator generates synthetic media samples, while the discriminator evaluates their authenticity. Through iterative training and feedback loops, both networks improve their performance over time, culminating in the creation of highly convincing deepfake content.
The implications of deepfake technology extend far beyond mere entertainment or novelty. As these algorithms become increasingly sophisticated and accessible, they have the potential to reshape our understanding of truth, authenticity, and trust in the digital age. From the dissemination of false information to the manipulation of public perception, deepfakes represent a formidable challenge to the integrity of communication, media, and society as a whole.

CISA's identified critical risks

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has identified several critical risks associated with deepfake technology:
Deepfakes can be used to spread false information, misinformation, and disinformation at an unprecedented scale. Cyber criminals, fraudsters, and insiders alike can exploit deepfake technology to deceive customers, manipulate public opinion, incite social unrest, or undermine trust in financial institutions.
Deepfakes enable impersonation attacks where attackers mimic the voices or appearances of bank executives or employees to deceive customers or gain unauthorized access to sensitive information. Whether it is a cybercriminal posing as a bank executive to authorize fraudulent transactions or an insider leveraging deepfake technology for corporate espionage, the risks are manifold.
Deepfake technology poses serious threats to individuals' privacy rights by enabling the creation of fake content without their consent. Malicious actors can exploit deepfakes to fabricate compromising or embarrassing videos or images, leading to reputational damage, extortion attempts, or harassment of bank customers or employees.
The proliferation of deepfake technology raises concerns about its potential impact on electoral processes and democratic institutions. Deepfake videos depicting bank executives making controversial statements or engaging in illicit activities could sway customer opinions, undermine trust in financial institutions, and disrupt financial markets.

Implications for the banking sector

The risks associated with deepfake technology are particularly concerning for the banking sector can enable sophisticated fraud schemes targeting banks and our customers. Impersonation attacks, fraudulent transactions, and social engineering scams leveraging deepfake technology pose significant financial risks and reputational damage to banks.
Deepfake technology threatens the security and privacy of sensitive customer data held by banks. Unauthorized access to customer accounts, identity theft, and data breaches facilitated by deepfake-based attacks can result in financial losses and regulatory penalties for banks.
The proliferation of deepfake content targeting banks can erode customer trust and confidence in financial institutions. Instances of deepfake impersonation attacks or misinformation campaigns can damage the reputation of banks and undermine their credibility in the eyes of customers and stakeholders.

Mitigating deepfake risks for banks

Addressing the risks associated with deepfake technology requires a concerted effort banks must continue invest in advanced detection tools and technologies capable of identifying and mitigating deepfake-based threats. Implementing robust authentication measures, monitoring systems, and employee training programs can help banks detect and prevent deepfake attacks.
Educating customers about the existence and potential dangers of deepfakes is essential for fostering awareness and resilience against fraudulent schemes. Banks can provide guidance on recognizing and reporting suspicious activities related to deepfake technology.
Collaboration between banks, government agencies, and technology providers is essential for sharing threat intelligence, developing best practices, and coordinating response efforts to deepfake-related incidents.

SEB position

As deepfake technology continues to evolve and proliferate, so too do the risks it poses to the banking sector. From fraud and financial crimes to data security and privacy breaches, the threats associated with deepfake technology are multifaceted and ever evolving. By understanding these risks and adopting proactive measures to address them, SEB can safeguard their customers, protect their reputation, and uphold the integrity of the financial system.
Stay vigilant, stay informed, and together, we at SEB can safeguard against the dangers of deepfake deception in the banking sector.


Ulf Larsson, SEB Security CTO