Like most other powerful tech tools, generative AI has a dark side—and if in the wrong hands, potentially darker than we’ve yet seen. To examine this vulnerability, the new 2023 Online Identity Study from risk assessment and compliance solutions firm Jumio takes a close look at how generative AI and deepfake technologies could accelerate identity fraud, and the subsequent need for digital identities for online verification and authentication.
The newly-released second installment of the firm’s annual global consumer research, in partnership with Censuswide, highlights an understanding among consumers around the inherent risk, but also finds that consumers appear to overestimate their ability to spot deepfakes, which can render them even more vulnerable to attack.
The study examined 8,055 adult consumers split evenly across the United Kingdom, United States, Singapore and Mexico. Over two-thirds (67 percent) say they are aware of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT, DALL-E and Lensa AI, and that these tools can produce fabricated content, including videos, images and audio. Awareness was highest among consumers in Singapore (87 percent) and lowest among those in the UK (56 percent).
An underestimation of the sophistication of the technologies
Awareness of generative AI and deepfakes among consumers is high, as more than half (52 percent) of respondents believe they could detect a deepfake video—which reflects a dangerous level of overconfidence on the part of consumers, given the reality that deepfakes have reached a level of sophistication that prevents detection by the naked eye.
This is concerning given that recent figures from UK Finance found that impersonation scams cost the UK £177 million in 2022. The research specifically called out how this has been driven by scams becoming harder to spot as warning signs, such as typos or fake-looking websites, are less prevalent due to the use of generative AI tools. In the U.S., consumers lost $2.6 billion to impersonation scams in 2022, up from $2.4 billion in 2021, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The data also shows a steady uptick in the use of increasingly sophisticated deepfakes across the globe and across industries, with a heavier presence in the payments and crypto sectors.
“A lot of people seem to think they can spot a deepfake. While there are certainly tell-tale signs to look for, deepfakes are getting exponentially better all the time and are becoming increasingly difficult to detect without the aid of AI,” said Stuart Wells, Jumio’s chief technology officer, in a news release. “While AI-powered technology will increasingly be required by businesses to spot and protect their networks and customers from deepfakes, consumers can protect themselves by treating provocative images, videos and audio with skepticism. Some quick research will usually uncover whether it’s a fake or not.”
Awareness shifts to understanding of potential harmful use
As consumers become more aware of these technologies, there is also an emerging understanding of how they could be used to escalate identity theft. Over half (57 percent) believe that online identity theft will become easier as a result, and consumers in Singapore showed the highest level of understanding of their potential harmful use (73 percent). These levels decrease among consumers in Mexico (62 percent), the U.S. (49 percent) and the UK (43 percent).
The onus is on businesses to educate and better protect
“Organizations have a duty to educate their customers on the nuances of generative AI technologies to help them develop more realistic expectations of their ability to detect deepfakes,” said Philipp Pointner, Jumio’s chief of digital identity, in the release. “At the same time, even the best education will never be able to completely stop a fraudster’s use of evolving technologies. Online organizations must look to implement multimodal, biometric-based verification systems that can detect deepfakes and prevent stolen personal information from being used. Encouragingly, our research indicated strong consumer appetite for this form of identity verification, which businesses should act on fast.”
The survey found that over two-thirds (68 percent) of consumers are open to using a digital identity to verify themselves online. The top sectors where they would prefer a digital identity over a physical ID (like a driver’s license or passport) are financial services (43 percent), government (38 percent) and healthcare (35 percent).
The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 8,055 consumers split evenly across the United Kingdom, United States, Singapore and Mexico. The fieldwork took place April 4-6, 2023. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.