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What’s Video Phishing and how do You Protect Yourself?

video phishing

In 2020, phishing is among the most common forms of cyberattacks on businesses and individuals alike. 56% of IT decision-makers state that phishing attacks are the top security threat they are facing, with 32% of hacks involving phishing. Here is video phishing and how you protect yourself.

Phishing is no longer limited to emails from Nigerian princes offering the recipients massive returns on investments.

Many phishing messages and websites have become sophisticated to the point that users are no longer able to recognize them without specific training. Google now blacklists an average of 50,000 websites for phishing every week.

On the upside, the ways that you can protect yourself from phishing attacks have evolved as well in recent years. They range from using up-to-date firewall software to using secure platforms such as cloud-based business phone services.

A new threat is looming on the horizon: video phishing.

Driven by technological advances, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, this new trend has the potential of causing catastrophic security breaches.

Keep reading to find out what video phishing is, what it looks like, and how you can protect yourself.

black iphone 7 on macbook pro

How does Video Phishing work?

Surprise! Elon Musk is interrupting your Zoom call.

Sounds fake? It is.

But it looks disturbingly real.

See the end of the document for embed.

The video above shows an application of Avatarify, a tool developed by a researcher to transform users into celebrities in real-time during Zoom or Skype calls. Its inventor, Ali Aliev, says that the program’s purpose was to have some fun during COVID-19 lockdown — by surprising friends during video conferences as Albert Einstein, Eminem, or the Mona Lisa.

The technology behind donning someone else’s animated face like a mask is called deepfaking.

Deepfakes are relatively new applications of machine learning tools. These tools generate realistic faces by analyzing thousands of videos and images of a target’s face and extracting patterns for common expressions and movements. Then, these patterns can be projected onto anyone, effectively morphing them into someone else.

You use the image of  Elon Musk. Or President Obama. In fact, a deep fake video of the former President calling his successor ‘a total and complete dips**t’ went viral back in 2018.

The implications of this technology for cybersecurity are wide-reaching and potentially disastrous.

Because instead of trolling your friends, or insulting President Trump via someone famous deepfakes — you won’t know if it’s friends being comical — or the dangerous, video phishing.

What are the Dangers of Video Phishing?

According to CNN, the majority of deepfake videos on the internet as of the end of 2019, were pornography. In total, 15,000 of such videos were counted. That might not sound like much, considering the vastness of the internet.

The reason for these rather limited numbers has been that generating convincing deepfakes takes a fair amount of computational power. Avatarify, for example, takes a high-level gaming PC to run properly.

But lower-quality applications have already been developed, such as a face-swapping app that got banned again fairly quickly.

It is only a question of time before deepfake technology becomes widely available. And widely used for cybercrime.

Some of these scams have already been recorded and you can find them on YouTube.

In one case, hackers used similar technology to deepfake the voices of CEOs and sent voicemail messages to executives. They succeeded in effecting a transfer of a mind-boggling $243,000.

In another case, three men were arrested in Israel for swindling a businessman out of $8 million by impersonating the French foreign minister.

Experts are already warning against other possible applications of deepfake videos for frauds to generate funds. One scenario, for example, is extortion. Hackers could threaten the release of a video containing content that can be damaging to a person’s or business’ reputation. Such content could range from straight-out pornography to the CEO of a company endorsing racist views.

As experiences have shown, that could be disastrous. For businesses, even the regular kind of ‘fake news’ can have catastrophic impacts on industry relationships, and even their stock market values.

“Those kinds of things can put a company out of business through reputation damage,� Chris Kennedy of the AI cyber-security platform AttackIQ said in a recent interview with Forbes. “We’re hitting the tipping point in which technology is taking advantage of the biggest human weakness, we’re over-trusting.�

How to Defend Yourself against Deepfake Video Phishing

Today, having a high cybersecurity standard is more important than ever. With online life proliferating during the COVID-19 crisis, scams and phishing attacks have flourished as well.

The good news in the case of phishing videos is that the technology, as of 2020, is still relatively new, and the case numbers relatively low. That means that individuals and businesses have time to prepare, and disseminate information to ward against such attacks.

Know the basic defense moves

As a most basic form of defense, extreme caution is advised if you receive an unsolicited video call, especially from someone famous or in a position of authority. Never trusting caller IDs, hanging up immediately, and not sharing any information on such calls is essential.

If you receive video messages that might be authentic, but you are uncertain about it, you can use software to determine if what you are facing is a deep fake. For example, companies such as Deeptrace offers software with the capacity to recognize AI-generated video content.

Apart from that, some low-tech solutions to protect against video phishing are having agreed-upon code words when communicating about sensitive information via video messaging, using a second communication channel to confirm information, or asking security questions that your interlocutor can only answer if they are the real deal.

Basically, pretend you’re in an old James Bond film. ‘In London, April’s a Spring month’ and all that.

Final Thoughts

Using AI to morph into someone else and extract sensitive information may still sound futuristic. But it is only a question of time until video phishing hits the mainstream.

As technology advances and artificial intelligence and machine learning applications to copy the face and voice of people become widely available, the number of deepfake scams is set to go through the roof.

The best you can do, is to be aware, keep informed, and brace yourself. Keep safe.

The post What’s Video Phishing and how do You Protect Yourself? appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Using Video to Build Consumer Trust in Your Startup

video marketing

Building trust is important for every business, but it’s even more essential for startups. If no one has heard of your product yet, and nobody trusts your brand, how can you expect your business to take off? Here is how you can use video to build client and consumer trust in your startup.

The Early Stages of Promoting Your Startup

If you’re in the early stages of promoting your startup, you’ve probably thought about trying every possible marketing tactic out there: emails, blog posts, targeted ads on social media — you name it. However, few channels can match video content as the best medium to display a company’s competence and expertise that will let you in to your customer’s hearts.

In this article, we’re going to see what the best production companies in the business can teach you about using video to elicit trust from your audience — While also making your new venture stand out amongst the competition. Know how different types of videos can accomplish varied marketing goals to help you get your startup out there.

First of all — why video?

Time moves fast in the digital age, and as an entrepreneur, you should keep in mind that video is the medium that lets you explain your product or service in the shortest amount of time.

There are solid reasons why video is being heralded as the king of content for the digital age. It has become both a key piece of every marketing strategy and the most preferred way in which audiences consume content online. Now, more than ever, audiences have the power to pick and choose what content they consume, and when and where they want to do this.

Video keeps coming up as the best performer — on top of other formats.

Outperforming other means of building your company — branded video content must be at the top of your game. Merely promoting your product or service just isn’t enough anymore. Effective videos must be captivating and entertaining. A vid can promote a brand, but they should also give something back to the audience.

Building a lasting and fruitful relationship with your customers is all about trust.

Videos are viral in nature, and within the right marketing strategy, they can spread through the internet like wildfire. A quality video with a professional finish can do amazing things for your brand – From boosting your online presence to converting potential customers into clients.

The three most effective types of video content you can choose to build trust in your startup:

  • product videos
  • explainer videos
  • and customer testimonials

Putting the spotlight on your offerings with Product Videos

There’s a reason product videos are so popular in eCommerce marketing: they offer a straight and simple way of communicating your product or service’s features and benefits.

Product videos are one of the most traditional types of branded content out there, and they can be presented, similar to ads. But traditional doesn’t equal boring. The best product videos are the ones that don’t feel like over-selling commercials, but rather look like a cool and flashy reveal of your goods. Take, for example, this piece:

Apple is great at producing amazing looking videos of their products, like this one they’ve made for the iPhone 8. The company is known for using a minimalist approach. Notice how there’s no voice-over, no text, nothing but footage from the product on a black background, edited to sync with uplifting music.

Thirty seconds is all it takes to show the new design and some of the new features of the product without giving it all away, leaving the audience wanting more. It’s a great example of doing a lot with little, and how not every product video has to be “in-your-face� with its content.

Showcase expertise with an Explainer Video

Storytelling is one of the oldest art forms. There’s something about stories that connect with people on a deep and emotional level. Explainer videos use that to their advantage; no wonder they are one of the most engaging types of branded content out there.

Explainers tackle complex topics in a way that’s easy to understand. Through animation and motion graphics, they can use a wide range of resources like characters, infographics, and metaphors to educate viewers on what your startup does and what benefits you can offer.

Unlike product videos, explainer videos don’t look like traditional ads at all.

Instead, they are a sort of combination of educational and branded content. They talk directly to your audience, explaining to them how your product or service can make their lives better. They usually start by bringing up a problem, suggesting a solution, and then showing how your product works. For example:

Blume Beverages is a manufacturer of super-food drinks. See how this piece promotes the product but doesn’t focus exclusively on that fact. Instead, the vid begins by explaining the unique benefits of their ingredients, and then moves on to the origins of their company and mission.

By making Blume look like a relatable industry expert on the matter — it helps audiences trust the brand. And above all, when you finish the video, you end up having learned something new.

Share happy customer stories with a testimonial video

And last (but not least), let’s talk about customer testimonial videos. We all know that telling others how great you are is not nearly as persuasive as having another person do it for you. Testimonial videos are widely used as a tool to drive trust by sharing positive experiences of happy customers.

Customer stories let your work speak for itself by focusing the conversation on the tangible benefits of your product or service. This allows viewers to get a better sense of the positive impact you can bring to their lives or business.

Few things are more convincing than a happy customer, but it also needs to be an honest and realistic review.

Choosing clients who are representative of your target audience gives the piece a real-life application that will achieve a great impact on your audience.

When you have a good customer review and combine it with the engaging force of video, the results can be really impressive. Let’s watch an example:

It can be hard for software companies like FreshBooks to explain the benefits of their service in an engaging way. Watch as this customer testimonial tells the story of an interior designer that almost ran her own business to the ground before switching to their software.

Notice how the piece clearly structures the review: the problem, the solution, and the benefits.

Using example to watch how video content can humanize your startup by turning the spotlight away from your product or service and towards the people who buy them. Instead of thinking about FreshBooks as a faceless software company — now you’ll associate the brand with real people and happy customers.

Must-Follow Production Tips

Before you go, let’s review two fundamental tricks and advice that will help you, regardless of the type of video you end up choosing:

  • Don’t underestimate the value of a script: Whether you’re doing an animated video or interviewing customers, you’ll always need to begin with a script. This will be your guide all throughout the production process of your video, and it will help you stick to your original vision.
  • Keep it simple and short: As we’ve said before, time is very precious in the digital era, and nobody has the time to sit through a long-form piece about your product. So, better keep it short and simple if you want your audience to watch the whole piece.


Trust and personal engagement is a critical part of every startup success. With the use of video content, you can connect your products or services with your target customers in impactful ways.

People trust only what they can see, and video can deliver personalized content to your audience to increase your online presence and get your business off the ground. If you love your startup, video content should be one of your primary marketing tactics.

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