AI to AI: Why new tactics are needed to fight modern fraud

24 Nov 2023

Daniel Keller. Image: Onfido

Onfido’s Daniel Keller discusses his role as CTO, the biggest tech trends affecting his industry and Onfido’s new R&D space, Fraud Lab.

Daniel Keller is the chief technology officer (CTO) at Onfido, a tech company that specialises in identity verification.

Prior to his current position at Onfido, which he began in September of this year, Keller served as CTO at business-to-business platform provider Visable and platform builder HitFox Group (now known as Ioniq).

In his current role, where he leads a team of 150 employees, he says “driving and delivering technology strategy” is his main aim.

“I’m responsible for looking five years ahead with my teams, getting clarity on where we will need to be at that point in time, and formulating a crystal-clear vision of how we’ll get there.”

‘As bad actors adopt the latest AI technology for offensive means, we must do the same – using AI to fight AI’

Are you spearheading any major product or IT initiatives you can tell us about?

We have been working to prepare for the launch of our new Fraud Lab – a cutting-edge space dedicated to R&D around the latest fraud tactics. We launched this dedicated environment to accelerate innovation in fraud prevention and help our clients stay one step ahead of bad actors.

For instance, over the last twelve months, we’ve seen the availability of simple-to-use AI tools hijacked by fraudsters and it’s our solutions that are helping to combat a 3000pc year-over-year increase in deepfakes and a five-times increase in digital forgeries in 2023 compared to 2021.

In the labs, we have the ability to mass-produce synthetic attacks and create anything from fake IDs to deepfakes, which we use to train our AI-powered platform to identify emerging fraud patterns and trends. The lab serves as a crucial component in our ongoing commitment to keeping fraudsters at bay in a constantly evolving digital landscape.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation and how are you addressing it?

I have extensive experience with digital transformation and success is always dependent upon organisational culture. It’s critical that it is not a siloed effort, the broader workforce must engage and buy into the transformation too, recognising the role technology plays in enabling growth and innovation. In many companies, there’s still a prevailing old-fashioned IT paradigm of delivering services. In contrast, within technology-driven companies, it is at the core and you build great products for your customers and users around it.

As Onfido, we are a native technology company built on AI technology. Still, the technology cycles are so fast that you must be in a transformation mode and reinvent yourself repeatedly. The key is never to be happy with the current state, have the right sense of urgency and be ready to adapt to change.

We are also continuously seeking opportunities to embrace the power of automation, allowing digital services to accelerate and improve our own processes, as well as those that our customers use. This not only makes us efficient but means that it alleviates team pressures to focus on priorities outside of routine tasks.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?

Generative AI is a trend that is pushing fraud to new levels, helping criminals run increasingly convincing scams at the click of a button. As bad actors adopt the latest AI technology for offensive means, we must do the same – using AI to fight AI.

For instance, we know deepfake fraud is on the rise. By using generative AI to mirror fraudsters’ tactics, we can replicate the fully synthetic, generated faces using the same methods. These provide large amounts of data points that can be used to train AI-powered anti-spoofing models.

The bottom line is that businesses need to take proactive steps to protect themselves against AI-powered attacks. Automated attacks can be performed on such a scale that organisations will find themselves a step behind if they do not have the defences that can go toe-to-toe with these threats.

In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?

When it comes to data protection, you can see this from two different perspectives. On the one hand, we are helping our customers protect their data against identity theft via our Real Identity Platform, using a ‘multi-layered’ approach that consists of document and biometric verification, intelligence from trusted data sources and passive signals. With so many points of vulnerability and opportunities for fraudsters to attack, this holistic approach to fraud prevention is the best strategy in the digital economy. To facilitate this, we offer a no-code orchestration product, Onfido Studio, to allow our customers to manage complex processes with ease.

In addition, the security of the data we host in our systems is equally important. This commitment to safeguarding data is not merely a procedural step; it is an intrinsic part of our company’s DNA, ingrained in our culture and ethos.

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