Europol warns of the risk of exploitation of “deepfakes” by organized crime

The European Police Office fears that the resources given to the police are not sufficient in the face of rapidly improving technology.

The “deepfake” could become a basic tool for organized crime, warned Thursday, April 28, a Europol report, calling on law enforcement to make the fight against the criminal use of this digital technology a priority.

“Advances in artificial intelligence and the public availability of large databases of images and videos mean that the volume and quality of ‘deepfake’ content is increasing,” the European police office said.

“Deepfake” or “hyperfaking”, a multimedia synthesis technique based on artificial intelligence and allowing the creation of ultra-realistic simulations of real people by replacing one face with another or one voice with another, “facilitates the proliferation of crimes,” warned Europol.

Europol gives in a detailed report several contemporary examples of criminal use of technology, including disinformation, tampering with evidence, document fraud and the production of non-consensual pornography.

The report tells how criminals used a “deepfake” audio to impersonate the CEO of a company, in order to transfer 35 million dollars (33.3 million euros) to an employee.

Absolute priority

“The prevention and detection of ‘deepfakes’ must be the top priority for law enforcement,” Europol said.

Much of the “deepfake” content created today is identifiable through manual methods that rely on human analysts identifying telltale signs in deepfake images and videos, according to the office.

However, this labor intensive task is not feasible on a large scale.

Europol argues that law enforcement will need to improve the skills and technology available to officers if they are to keep pace with the criminal use of ‘deepfakes’.

Examples of these new capabilities range from deploying technical and organizational safeguards against video tampering to creating “deepfake” detection software that uses artificial intelligence.

Victoria Beurnez with AFP

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