The Rise of Deepfakes: Protecting Your Firm 

Deepfakes are changing how we perceive online content, presenting significant challenges for accounting firms. Deepfakes are a type of digital fraud that is made possible by advanced AI algorithms. It come from the words “deep learning” and “fake“. These deepfakes can convincingly alter images, audio, and video, creating material that appears authentic but is, in fact, fake. Some people use deepfake technology for fun, but others use it for nefarious reasons, including stealing identities and money, which poses serious risks to financial professionals. 

With advancements in AI and computing technology, the barrier to creating highly convincing videos & audio impersonating your clients and colleagues means just about anyone can create them and thus use them to ensnare accounting firms in an expensive and damaging cyber event or fraud.  

From 2022 to 2023, the number of deepfakes across the world rose by 10 times. Even though deepfakes are becoming more common, 71% of people still don’t know what they are. 43% of people admit they can’t tell the difference between real videos and deepfake videos, which shows how important it is to raise awareness and educate yourself. 

Threats to Firms 💼

Deepfake technology threatens accounting firms in various ways. Cybercriminals can use deepfakes to deceive employees into believing they’re interacting with high-level executives. Picture a fraudster using deepfake technology to mimic the CEO’s voice in a recorded message, allegedly authorizing a large transfer of funds. Deepfakes can also tamper with financial records, such as invoices or bank statements, by altering logos, text, and signatures, potentially resulting in fraudulent activity. These manipulations could lead to financial losses and damage the firm’s reputation. However, if accounting firms remain vigilant and familiarize themselves with various types of deepfakes and how to spot them, they can reduce these risks. 

Types of Deepfakes and How to Spot them 🌑

Video-Based Deepfakes: These deepfakes often surface on social media platforms, where cybercriminals impersonate trusted figures to solicit donations for fictitious causes or promote fictitious products. The face swap deep fake is particularly common, where someone’s face is digitally placed onto another person’s body in a video. A manipulated video might show the CEO discussing financial reports with their face replaced by that of a cybercriminal. Such deepfakes can be identified through signs such as irregular blinking, inconsistent lip syncing, flickering around the edges of the subject, and odd-looking teeth. 

Audio-Based Deepfakes: In audio-based deepfakes, cybercriminals impersonate voices of individuals known to the target audience, such as coworkers to deceive and manipulate. Audio deepfakes are created by recording someone’s voice and processing it through a program. This program utilizes AI analysis to generate an audio ‘clone’ by filling in missing elements like new words, emotional tone, and accent. Spotting audio-based deepfakes can be challenging, but irregular pitch variations, absence of background noise, and an urgent tone are common signs. 

Protect Yourself against Deepfakes 🚀

While deepfakes pose a serious threat, there are steps you can take to protect yourself against them. 

  • Be cautious about sharing personal information online. When using social media, particularly platforms where personal details are easily accessible, exercise extra care. This helps prevent malicious individuals from exploiting your information.  
  • Be wary of emails, text messages, calls or other forms of digital communication that come from people you don’t know, especially those urging immediate action. Always check the sender’s name and avoid clicking on suspicious links. 
  • Learn about the latest deepfake trends including how they are created and used. 
  • For any unexpected or unusual requests, verify the validity and authenticity of the sender by contacting through via a different, already known, medium. For instance, call them on a number you have on file, or send them a new email to a known address. Do not take any action until you are satisfied the request is legitimate. 

Staying Informed & Secure 🌟

Deepfakes are a growing threat that can have serious consequences for accounting firms because of the sensitive nature of the data they possess. By understanding these evolving tactics and implementing the steps outlined above, you can significantly strengthen your firm’s defenses. Download our free Deepfake Infographic today to learn more about the latest trends and risks surrounding deepfakes.