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Deepfake attacks in the banking sector.
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June 05, 2024

Tech Brew

Splunk

It’s Wednesday. Hot deepfake summer is upon us. There’s no shortage of reports about how AI stands to be a problem in elections in particular, and with the presidential election looming, that use of the tech has been front and center, but voice cloning has the potential to be a big headache for a large sector of the economy: finance. Tech Brew’s Kelcee Griffis has details from a new report on the topic.

In today’s edition:

Kelcee Griffis, Jordyn Grzelewski, Annie Saunders

AI

Faking it/making it

Illustration and interpretation of a deepfake detector Francis Scialabba

Deepfake attacks are on the rise, and they’re hitting consumers where it hurts: in their bank accounts.

According to a new report from security tech company Pindrop, 67% of respondents said they’re concerned about the use of deepfakes and voice clones in the banking and finance sector. Those concerns aren’t unfounded, Pindrop CEO Vijay Balasubramaniyan told Tech Brew.

“Banks and financial institutions are almost [always] the first target for any new, sophisticated attack vector. And that’s because they offer the easiest way to money,” he said. “If I’m able to take over a banking account, I can actually, immediately, potentially wire-transfer money, order new credit cards, perform transactions—and I get real money very quickly.”

Pindrop’s report, released May 22, draws on the company’s insights from providing multifactor authentication and deepfake detection services to top US banks and insurers, as well as major retailers and healthcare providers, Balasubramaniyan said.

According to Pindrop’s report, customer call centers and advisors for high-net-worth individuals are increasingly seen as prime targets for such attacks. Deepfake technologies can allow bad actors to impersonate clients so convincingly that private wealth managers can be tricked into making transactions without their real client’s consent, Balasubramaniyan said.

“We’ve seen a lot more usage of deepfakes when the accounts have high dollar amounts associated with them,” he told us. “In a lot of cases, these high-net-worth individuals are famous or, you know, have big roles and responsibilities. And so it’s easier to get audio and video of those people to go after them.”

Keep reading here.—KG

   

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CONNECTIVITY

Just charge it

A laminated piece of paper displaying a QR code and text reading "Affordable Connectivity Program" and "WiFi discount" Ariana Drehsler

Now that the Affordable Connectivity Program has officially run out of money, lawmakers and advocates continue to debate the best way to subsidize low-income Americans’ internet bills in the future. One trade group says the solution is “staring us in the face”: Make Big Tech pay for it.

In a Monday blog post, USTelecom suggested that Congress could create “a new, financially responsible, and self-sustaining version of the ACP” if it overhauls the Federal Communications Commission’s Universal Service Fund (USF)—and forces new companies to pay into it.

“To secure the future of universal, affordable connectivity, Big Tech must take its seat at the USF table,” according to the trade group, which represents internet providers including AT&T and Verizon. “For too long, these trillion-dollar behemoths have worked hard to avoid any requirement to contribute to universal service and affordable connectivity—despite the fact they are among the most powerful companies on the planet precisely because so many of us are connected.”

The USF is a pool of internet access and affordability subsidies formed in 1996. It pays for connectivity in schools and libraries, communications infrastructure in rural areas, and low-income phone service through mandatory carrier contributions. However, the system is widely recognized as being outdated and overburdened as it supports a growing number of modern communications services.

Keep reading here.—KG

   

FUTURE OF TRAVEL

Mixed messages

Image of a man and a woman charging red and green electric vehicles. Monty Rakusen/Getty Images

The EV market continues to send mixed messages amid a turbulent period in the transition to battery-powered vehicles.

Several major automakers reported sales gains in May that were bolstered by strong EV and hybrid results, according to industry reports.

Hyundai Motor America reported a 12% YoY sales increase. Several of its electrified models had their best-ever May, including the all-electric Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6 and hybrid versions of the Tucson and Santa Fe. Overall, the brand’s EV sales grew 42% over last May.

“We continue seeing great success in our eco-friendly lineup with an overall 50% increase YoY,” CEO Randy Parker said in a statement. “Both EVs and hybrids continue to gain popularity with Hyundai’s newest HEV, the 2024 Santa Fe, gaining 116% YoY and our award-winning Ioniq 5 family increasing 82%.”

Sister brand Kia reported its highest monthly EV sales ever, up 127% YoY, boosted by sales of the new EV9 three-row SUV.

American Honda cited “strong sales of electrified models” as one reason for its 11% YoY sales gain in May. Standouts included hybrid versions of the CR-V and Accord, and the new Prologue EV. Ford’s EV and hybrid sales were both up nearly 65% YoY.

Still, the EV market has been something of a mixed bag in recent months; it’s been a particularly rough stretch for market leader Tesla.

Keep reading here.—JG

   

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BITS AND BYTES

Stat: 63%. That’s the percentage of members of Gen Z who believe “AI will improve the customer experience in the financial services sector, including with financial planning,” according to a new report from Northwestern Mutual. That compares with 57% of millennials, 44% of those in Gen X, and 32% of boomers.

Quote: “When I signed up for OpenAI, I did not sign up for this attitude of ‘Let’s put things out into the world and see what happens and fix them afterward.’”—William Saunders, a research engineer and former OpenAI employee, to the New York Times in a story about a letter from “OpenAI insiders” that alleges a “culture of recklessness and secrecy” at the company.

Read: Things the guys who stole my phone have texted me to try to get me to unlock it (Gothamist)

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