Jovanović: Deepfake is the new form of hybrid warfare

Milan Jovanović

What is actually deepfake technology based on doctored videos representing apparently real footage of people doing or saying something that, in reality, they didn’t say or do? Why is this trend seen as the scourge of modern times and great threat to national security systems aimed at manipulating masses, meddling in elections and destabilizing states? Does this new technology represent threat to Montenegro as well and what are the ways to defend? Dnevne novine talked with Mr Milan Jovanović from digital forensic center of the department of the Atlantic Alliance of Montenegro.

According to Mr Jovanović, this center has the best equipment and staff for countering cyber crime, inclusive of a deepfake technology.

“Deepfake is a brand new technology that started to develop in 2017 and has advanced so fast that it has a global influence now. Any public figure can be misrepresented with deepfake. So far, around 96% of deepfake cases referred to “putting” some person into fake pornographic videos. The remaining 4% referred to undermining western system of values, credibility of their politicians and public figures”, explains Mr Jovanović.

No cases of deepfake have been registered in Montenegro so far. However, the danger lurks as parliamentary elections are scheduled for the next year and experience taught us to be prepared and wary.

“Deefake is a new thing bit it is going viral. We can’t be sure if there’s going to be an anti-state campaign, but it is almost certain that there will be some sort of misinformation campaign”, points out Mr Jovanović.

Many thought Trump’s statement on climate was authentic

He stresses that if the USA, the most powerful state in the world, states that deepfake poses great risk to national security, then it is clear what kind of danger we are talking about.

“Elections are great chance for those who want to meddle. According to NY times research, in the past four years we have had 74 meddling campaigns around the world. We’re pretty sure there will be similar attempts in Montenegro and we must be ready to respond”, warns Mr Jovanović.

He says that deepfake technology requires powerful computers, with strong graphic cards and processors. He adds that most fake videos come from Asia, that is, South and North Korea.

“There are already different online deepfake stores offering deepfake services. It is lucrative business for some, but for the countries it is a great danger. It creates confusion and mistrust. Once deepfake technology reaches maximum, we won’t be able to distinguish real videos form the fake ones. It is important that people become aware of the dangers of the new technology”, points out Mr Jovanović.

For a very short time, deepfake has become our grim reality.

“In order for a fake video recording to be made, you must have face of the person you want to discredit, as well as his or her voice and gestures. The rest is done by the machine and algorithms. You provide the machine with inputs and it will do everything by itself. The final product is a video and audio recording that looks and sounds authentic. A couple of months ago media released a video of Mr Trump calling on the states to withdraw from the Paris agreement. It seemed real but it was a fake video. It was deepfake”, says Mr Jovanović.




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