Link To Guest Website:

Title: “Discussing Deep-Fakes, Ransomware, & Data Validation”
Guest: Nicos Vekiarides – Attestiv
Interviewer: Jonathan Freedman – MAGE LLC

Click here to read the transcript
Jonathan (1s):
Welcome back to Radio Entrepreneurs. I’m Jonathan Friedman and our next guest up is Nico’s Vic Erie days, CEO of Attestiv INC. Welcome to radio entrepreneur. Thanks for having me, Jonathan. So tell our listeners a little bit about attested and what it is that you do.

Nicos (18s):
So, so we provide authenticity for digital media. So photos, videos, and documents, particularly for companies that use digital media to make business decisions. What we can provide is a, is a way to make them tamper-proof and tamper resistance, and also determine if they’ve been altered in any way. So you may have heard about deep fakes, it’s relatively easy to, to alter digital media. And when it comes time to make business decisions on the digital media, what we can do is we can provide that layer of defense that enables companies to have confidence that what they’re receiving is, is real.

Nicos (59s):
Give us

Jonathan (59s):
An example of an application whereby instrument would play out very often in an engineering setting where you’re talking about drawings, or are we talking about, you know, commercial objects that are changing hands, just to ensure that the authenticity is there prior to, I guess, wiring money essentially in a and concluding a transaction, correct? Yeah,

Nicos (1m 23s):
Yeah. Very much so where we focus on is think of photos and videos. So insurance is an industry that uses photos to make virtually all of their decisions, right? If you file a claim, there’s photos that go in, those are used to make the decision that somehow those photos are tampered or altered in any way. And it’s, it’s very easy. It’s, it’s really child’s play for anybody to get ahold of Photoshop and start all during them. But lately we’ve seen tools such as deep fakes that utilize AI and really make, can create very realistic fakes. And while we’re seeing a lot of those on social media, they’re starting to permeate the enterprise. And that’s really where we come in is to help really prevent that.

Nicos (2m 9s):

Jonathan (2m 11s):
You know, we’re in a world and I don’t think a day has gone by in the last several years, we’re not talking about ransomware and companies being held hostage. It, it seems to be so pervasive in our digital environment. Tell us about how you guys work in that space and help to prevent it by, by your authenticity and, and, you know, ensuring that things are as they seem.

Nicos (2m 36s):
Yeah, it’s, it’s kind of a similar, I call it a parallel space, but, but in both cases and you hear a lot about ransomware today and in all cases, what what’s what’s happening is is you have hackers who are out there to exploit the system and, and, and try to make money, right. Even though, you know, a lot of it is sounds extremely dangerous and also frightening in, in, in many aspects, on the other side, someone is trying to exploit the system and make money. And that’s really the business that we’re in is to stop this type of, of exploitation of, of security holes.

Nicos (3m 17s):
So if, if an insurance company, for instance, doesn’t have this type of protection that this type of protection they’re open to being defrauded and like the case of ransomware it’s, it’s, it’s not only, maybe you’re, you’re losing access to a critical resource, but, but also it’s, it’s, it’s reputational as well. So where we come in is, is we make, we make it so that you can validate all of your data. So, you know, you, you know, something has changed, you know, if anything has been altered, you understand that that data maintains its integrity.

Jonathan (3m 56s):
Is this just an example of something that has always been there and it’s just moved into the digital domain because we’re so much more dependent on, on digital world. It seems to me that no matter, you know, if you look back over time and commercialization, it’s always been stay one ahead, one step ahead of the criminal, so to speak, but it seems so pervasive today. And, and is it, is it just because there’s so much of it out there or is it because it’s a lucrative field for, for, for, you know, the, the hackers? What, what is sort of driving all this? Or is there just so much more vulnerability because almost all businesses conducted electronically today?

Nicos (4m 37s):
I think that’s really it as digital transformation has been slowly happening over the last 15, 20 years. But, but as, as things, you know, it was a big shift into the cloud. A lot of things are online and of course it can be as secure as, as an on-premise environment, but, but oftentimes if you neglect to take the proper security measures, then it becomes vulnerable. And, and that, that, that’s simply a case of a lot of companies moving to digital transformation, but perhaps not taking the right steps to protect their organization. So really the protection has to go hand in hand with the digital transformation and, and that’s, that’s really where we come in, as we provide that foundation where we can help protect your data.

Nicos (5m 27s):
So why,

Jonathan (5m 27s):
Why do you think that companies are slow to adopt or industries are slow to adopt? Is it, is it a classic case of, you know, if, if I don’t think about it, it doesn’t exist. I I’ve seen in some particular cases in the hospital industry and maybe a small example, but you know, where access to records, patient records, things of that nature are compromised. You hear every day and I’d be surprised if any, consumer who hasn’t gotten something from some company, whether it be a credit card merchant, a company that they’ve transacted with that has been somehow violated, you know, their, their, their records in some respect. But it seems to me that on the, in the cases that I’ve heard of companies are investing millions and millions of dollars to try and protect these things.

Jonathan (6m 14s):
But I suspect that industries as, as a whole are generally slow to adopt the necessary protections. And why do you think that is? Is it,

Nicos (6m 25s):
Well, I, I think it’s hard to change processes. And in particular, if you haven’t been hurt by this type of breach, then it’s, it’s, it’s very easy to have different priorities. So it’s really a matter of making it a priority. So it kind of has to start from the top down to say, well, cybersecurity is going to be a very high priority for us. And we, we did some surveys earlier this year. And what we saw is that 80% or close to 80% of companies acknowledge the threat of a fake media and deep fakes and the potential for fraud in their organization, but, but less than 30% are doing something about it.

Nicos (7m 8s):
So I think it’s a situation, well, when we’re, until something bad really happens. And, and perhaps as part of an industry, then that industry really starts to take action. Ideally it should be proactive, but it’s often hard for people to change their existing processes and make that a part of their process.

Jonathan (7m 32s):
So let me try and understand in the insurance industry, and I guess maybe I’m looking at it with a myopic view towards the consumer, you know, as you said, I have a car accident. I said, upload photos and send them to the insurers and it’s adjuster or the insurance company. And is it, is it happening at the, at the consumer level where people are conducting the fraud or is it happening in a, in a much more sort of global sense whereby there are hackers who are somehow inserting themselves into the process what’s what’s going on there? Is it, is it a large scale or is it individualized or both?

Nicos (8m 10s):
It’s, it’s really a combination of both. Sometimes you have sort of know fraud rings where they, they sort of come in and sort of find a sort of a place to, to, to, to attack. But on the other hand, yeah. I mean, it’s even from a point of view of if, if a hurricane hits and it’s very difficult for an insurance adjuster to get in there, or, or if during COVID right, we saw that perhaps you don’t want to send inspectors and adjusters. So, so a lot of insurers revert to self-service. So self-service means a level of trust.

Nicos (8m 51s):
Sometimes, sometimes it’s simply the wrong location. Sometimes it’s pretty brazen attempts. People just download photos from the internet and say, oh, this is, this is my, this is my vehicle because it looks like my vehicle or, or even photos of photos. Right? So, so we track time, date, location, I’m going to take a photo of their screen and say, well, this is a photo of my damage, but, but a lot of fraud happens. If you look at the records, you know, hurricanes, things like that are typical situations where fraudsters come in and, and in many forms and, and they try to make false claims.

Jonathan (9m 31s):
Do you have estimates of what the scope, what the scale of, of that fraud in the insurance industry is? I would imagine it’s in the hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars every year,

Nicos (9m 40s):
It is. If we look at the P and C property and casualty industry alone, it’s about 40 billion in the us. Of course, it’s not all fraud and you’ll leave that.

Jonathan (9m 54s):
Wow. Wow. So I guess that’s a very big number. Wow. That is a tremendous number. I imagine if they spent a small fraction protecting themselves with self service, like you, they, they be well ahead of the game.

Nicos (10m 7s):
It’s, it’s very easy to work out an ROI and, and they are. And the, and the, and then the question is, you know, how can you integrate this into your existing process? And that’s, that’s where we’ve done a lot of work lately. It’s, it’s making it easy to adopt. So we even work with products that insurance carriers are already using, or, or, or even companies who they use as, as claims provider. So we recently announced we’re working with ACD who’s. It was a third-party administrator for auto claims. So insurance companies that use ACD essentially get the attested capabilities as part of the service

Jonathan (10m 46s):
And, and without giving away too much of the most trap, what you’re really doing is not necessarily authenticating you’re authenticating the, the digital behind the scenes, not the, not the actual physical picture, but the characteristics, the digital characteristics to, you know, when it was film, when it was shot, when it was taken location, those types of activities without giving away too much. So you’re not experts in a piece of art, but you’re looking at the digital characteristics of that, of that image.

Nicos (11m 17s):
That’s correct. And we do work with partners on things like damage identification, so that we can add that. It makes sense. Once you validate the photos, that you can also use artificial intelligence to kind of assess the scope of the damage and things like that. So where we come in is really that that really first level is just to make sure that you’re starting with, with, with good photos, videos, even documents. It’s a lot of document fraud, but that’s the foundation of, of being able to process the claims and then adding automation to these claims. It’s, it’s necessary to know you start with good data, really

Jonathan (11m 56s):
Fascinating stuff. And it sounds like you’re, you’re really in the, in the midst of a potential, tremendous growth for your business. And, you know, obviously it just blows my mind from a consumer perspective, how much of this I hear and how many, you know, emails I get at least on a weekly basis, somehow, you know, that I’ve been compromised in some way or shape or form. So we know that the hackers are out there working hard all over the place. Nico CEO of a test. If people want to reach out to you, what’s the best way for them to, to touch base. What’s the best way to connect and learn more about your business.

Nicos (12m 33s):
You, you can, you can learn about our business by emailing or And of course, if anyone wants to reach out to me on LinkedIn, I’m pretty active there. Excellent.

Jonathan (12m 48s):
Our guest has been Nicos vaguer, eighties, CEO of testing. And thank you for coming on Radio. Thank you, Jonathan. We’ll be right back with another segment on Eadio Entrepreneurs.

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