While the rapid integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in different aspects is making life easier for some, it has also raised concerns about privacy, cybersecurity, and scams. Last year, several people took to the internet to raise awareness about scammers trying to convince them to send money—which was made easy using AI. To address this, cybersecurity firm McAfee will unveil a new AI-powered innovation at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2024 to protect people against such scams.
The innovation uses an AI-powered deepfake audio detection technology, known as Project Mockingbird. The tool aims to protect consumers from scams wherein cybercriminals use fabricated, AI-generated audio to convince people to share money and personal information as well as manipulate the public image of prominent figures.
In May 2023, McAfee surveyed about 7,000 people from seven countries in which more than half of Indians admitted that they do not know how to differentiate between fake and real voices. This makes it easy for scammers to fake voice messages from friends and family members pretending to need help and get people to send them money.
Some scammers also use “cheapfakes,” wherein authentic videos are manipulated by adding in fake audio to present false information and show that a trusted or known figure has said something different than what was originally said. This is done to create controversy or spread misinformation, a press statement from McAfee explains.
Named after mockingbirds, known for mimicking the songs of other birds, the technology uses a combination of AI-powered contextual, behavioural, and categorical detection models to identify whether the audio in a video is AI-generated, the statement explains. According to McAfee, the AI innovation can currently detect deepfakes with a 90% accuracy rate.
Deepfakes and manipulated voices have become common scams today as access to AI has significantly increased. In December, McAfee’s The Global Festive Shopping Scams study, involving 7,000 participants from seven countries including India, revealed that 54% of Indian consumers were victims of ‘too good to be true’ scams during the festive season.
One way to counter such scams is to use AI-powered tools to detect them. In September 2023, McAfee announced the launch of an AI-powered scam protection tool, called McAfee Scam Protect. This was aimed to address the rise in scams such as phishing scams that use AI. In a press statement, McAfee explained that the tool will automatically detect and notify users of harmful URLs in texts before they are opened or clicked on.
Such tools are important as investment in AI-powered innovation is increasing. CES 2024, which kicks off on 9 January in Las Vegas, will be dominated by AI-powered technologies. Funding for generative AI projects significantly increased in 2023, growing more than fivefold to $23.78 billion through the beginning of December from 2022, according to data from PitchBook, which provides comprehensive data, research and insights on global capital markets.
It's the year of AI in everything, Maribel Lopez, tech analyst at Lopez Research said in a Reuters report. "If you don't have AI in your product, don't show up, it's not worth talking about,” Lopez adds in the report.