Protecting Against Digital Media Fraud – Part 1: Prevention vs. Detection

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We recently polled business on the best defense they should take against the growing threat of altered photos and videos. It turns out the most popular answer was automated detection. While you can feel free to read more about the results in our online report, we thought we’d take a few minutes to elaborate on some of the ways automated detection operates, two of the approaches typically used and the pros and cons of each.
the best defense infographic

In the world where the prevalence of fake digital media is increasing, two potential approaches that can be taken to determine media authenticity are:

  1. Detection – the process of determining whether media you possess has already been altered

  2. Prevention – the process of disallowing media to be manipulated or changed from the point of capture or creation

Detection

On the one hand, detecting whether digital media like photos, documents and video have been tampered may seem to be a cat and mouse game that may never end. The detection tools designed to flag manipulation will always be chasing evolving and improving editing tools that do the manipulation. 

It is anticipated that eventually the editing software will be able to generate media that is no different than the media generated by a device which creates it – effectively generating synthetic media with all the attributes of an original. Even today, there are some editing tools that make it very difficult to identify forensic traces of editing. 

On the other hand, detection is sometimes the only defense when the origin of the media is unknown. For instance, it is very difficult to trace the origin of a photo downloaded from the internet or sent via email depending on how much it has been processed. However, just as AI is often being used to modify photos today, AI can perform a deeper analysis of photos to determine the possibility of editing. In some instances, this is the only choice.

Prevention

Unlike detection, prevention gives us a more reliable solution to this problem. By locking down the media at the point of capture, so that any changes become tamper-evident, we are much more confident that the content we are viewing is original and unchanged. Of course, this only applies when we are at the point of creation or capture, which means it cannot always replace detection as the best defense.

Hand stop a dominoes continuous toppled. Analysis and risk concept.

Summary

If your business requires the use of digital media to make decisions, and you generally request the capturing of media by others who are untrusted parties, then using a controlled environment may be your best bet to ensure authenticity. When a photo effectively goes from the camera to your possession, you can be assured that you are viewing something that is original, unchanged and worthy of basing an important decision on (i.e. insurance claim, loan, home inspection, etc). However, given a controlled environment is not always available and sometimes media originates from unknown sources, detection can be a complementary backstop to determine if  what you are looking at is actually real.
Manny Parasirakis

Manny Parasirakis

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Nicos Vekiarides

Nicos Vekiarides

Nicos Vekiarides is the Chief Executive Officer & co-founder of Attestiv. He has spent the past 20+ years in enterprise IT and cloud, as a CEO & entrepreneur, bringing innovative new technologies to market. His previous startup, TwinStrata, an innovative cloud storage company where he pioneered cloud-integrated storage for the enterprise, was acquired by EMC in 2014. Before that, he brought to market the industry’s first storage virtualization appliance for StorageApps, a company later acquired by HP.

Nicos holds 6 technology patents in storage, networking and cloud technology and has published numerous articles on new technologies. Nicos is a partner at Mentors Fund, an early-stage venture fund, a mentor at Founder Institute Boston, where he coaches first-time entrepreneurs, and an advisor to several companies. Nicos holds degrees from MIT and Carnegie Mellon University.

Mark Morley

Mark Morley is the Chief Operating Officer of Attestiv.

He received his formative Data Integrity training at Deloitte. Served as the CFO of Iomega (NYSE), the international manufacturer of Zip storage devices, at the time,  the second fastest-growing public company in the U.S.. He served as the CFO of Encore Computer (NASDAQ) as it grew from Revenue of $2 million to over $200 million. During “Desert Storm”, Mark was required to hold the highest U.S. and NATO clearances.

Mark authored a seminal article on Data Integrity, that was published in the online Wall Street Journal. Additionally, he served as EVP, General Counsel and CFO at Digital Guardian, a high-growth cybersecurity company.

Earlier in his career, he worked at an independent insurance agency, Amica Mutual Insurance Company as a claims representative, and later, was the CEO of the Bermuda captive insurance subsidiary of a NYSE company. Also, he was the president of WorldPath Health, an international healthcare company.