Former Coinbase CTO believes blockchain phones could be the solution to deepfake AI scams

After unidentified criminals used AI-assisted audio deepfakes to steal more than $240,000, former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan suggested that blockchain-enabled phones could be the solution to call authentication.

While Srinivasan himself said that the technology is yet to come to life, many argued that such security measures already exist and don’t need blockchain at all.

AI-assisted audio deepfakes claim their first victims

Deepfakes have claimed their first victims as the world still has trouble wrapping their head around the crisis. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, criminals used AI-based software to impersonate a chief executive’s voice and demand a fraudulent transfer of more than $240,000.

Thinking he was speaking to his boss, a CEO of a German energy company complied with the request and wired the funds. The fraud was detected only after the CEO realized that he was getting two simultaneous phone calls—one from his actual boss and the other from the thieves.

Euler Hermes, the insurer of the unidentified company, said that it has come across at least three cases of voice fraud made with AI-powered deepfake technology. Cybersecurity firm Symantec told the Washington Post that at least one of the cases resulted in “millions of dollars in losses.

Balaji Srinivasan, the former CTO of Coinbase and general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, believes that blockchain is the clear solution to this problem.

In a Twitter thread, Srinivasan suggested implementing a two-factor authentication system for phone calls, which could include the speaker’s voice and their cryptographic signature. This, he explained, could be done via blockchain phones, where crypto wallets would be used to provide “a new kind of caller ID.”

Addressing the problem of security

Srinivasan’s calls for implementing greater security measures in phone calls got a lot of positive comments from the crypto community. Dozens of users shared their ideas on how this could be done efficiently. Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, joined the conversation saying security questions need to be “rapidly mainstreamed into our culture.”

However, while most acknowledged the need for greater security, many pointed out that using blockchain wasn’t the way to do it. Some users seemed to be frustrated with the use of the term “blockchain,” saying it has become nothing more than a buzzword.

Others said that adequate security measures already exist, pointing to the fact that most messaging apps already have advanced encryption that doesn’t need blockchain.

While Srinivasan did make the case that getting cryptocurrencies into the mix would give people a financial incentive to keep their private keys on a secure platform such as blockchain, it seems that his original idea still has a long way to go before it catches on.

Filed Under: People of Blockchain, Technology

Priyeshu is a software engineer who is passionate about machine learning and blockchain technology. He holds an engineering degree in Computer Science Engineering and is a passionate economist. He built his first digital marketing startup when he was a teenager, and worked with multiple Fortune 500 companies along with smaller firms. When he is not solving the transportation problems at his company, he can be found writing about the blockchain or roller skating with his friends.

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