Katie Jones is a fake LinkedIn account, with an AI-generated appearance but it didn’t stop her from being able to connect with some pretty high-level people.
Deep learning and AI advances are continuing to make deepfakes incredibly realistic, so much so that in many cases, we simply can’t tell what’s real and what’s not.
Not convinced? Think you can tell the difference? Then have a go for yourself – which of these photos are real and which were generated by a computer?
Instances of deepfakes have doubled in the last 12 months and concerns are building around how they can be used. Right now, most deepfake videos and photos surround non-consensual pornography, usually targeting celebrities but they are creeping into politics.
The biggest concern right now is that deepfakes may be used for phishing campaigns. Earlier this year, it was alleged that a deepfake voice was used to coerce an employee into transferring a large chunk of cash to a fraudulent account.
And it isn’t taking a great deal in the way of sophistication to do it, either.
Back to Katie Jones. A fake account created on LinkedIn, the goal was to spy on others and phish for information. And one AI-generated image later, business people were connecting to the account and potentially sharing sensitive info.
Using her LinkedIn account, Katie Jones managed to earn a fellow of Strategic and International Studies in Washington and a degree in Russian Studies from the University of Michigan. Not only that, but she also works for one of the top think tanks – not bad for someone that doesn’t exist!
Her image was created by GANs – generative adversarial networks – commonly used in deepfakes and, while there were some definite red flags in the image (if you know what you are looking for), it never raised any alarms with her connections – and some of those were pretty powerful, including a senior aide to the senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Paul Winfree, a leading economist.
What it highlights is that professionals on sites like LinkedIn take profile authenticity for granted and that leaves them wide open to spear-phishing schemes.
And here’s a great example of the pitfalls – a retired CIA officer was contacted on LinkedIn by a foreign agent posing as a recruiter – he’s been sent down for 20 years for handing over top-secret information.
There is nothing new about fake social media profiles but deepfake tech is making them that much harder to detect. If we take nothing else away from this, at the very least, we should think very hard before connecting to just anyone on LinkedIn.