High-tech software can be used to doctor videos

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 13 Jun 2019

PETALING JAYA: Doctoring footage to create “deepfake” videos to defame celebrities and politicians has become easier with evolving technology, says cybersecurity expert Fong Choong Fook.

Deepfakes are videos created in which the subject of the video is face-swapped using artificial intelligence (AI) software.

“In order to create a deepfake video, different perspectives of a subject is needed,” he said.

“That is why politicians and celebrities are such easy targets for deepfakes since there is so much visual data online that can be used.”

The term comes from a combination of “deep learning” and “fakes”.

The AI can superimpose the face of one subject (the source) onto a video of another (the target) using the subject’s facial gestures, images or video it wishes to impersonate.

Fong, who is the chief executive officer of a leading Malaysian cybersecurity firm LGMS, was commenting on a viral video of a man resembling a Cabinet minister en­gaging in a sexual act with another man.

Fong, however, said little can be said about the sex video.

The sex video is rather dark and not much audio can be heard from the subjects.

With deepfakes being the future trend owing to high demand and decreasing cost to create them, Fong said social media users must not fully trust everything they see.

“Although the current biggest challenge to make deepfakes is hardware limitation (due to the high cost), days of lower hardware and processing costs are coming.

“Deepfakes will surge to implicate more political figures and celebrities, leading to more fake news in the not so distant future,” he said. “We must have some reservation about whatever we see and hear on social media.”

An ultra-realistic deepfake video was posted on Tuesday featuring Mark Zuckerberg bragging about controlling billions of people’s “stolen” personal data, which led to heated concerns on fake contents and defamation.

Meanwhile, a Pakatan Harapan leader, who spoke anonymously, said the authenticity of the video was questionable.

Another individual who is close to the minister implicated in the video also shared the same view, adding that the minister had a certain mark on his upper body and it was not seen in the video.

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