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INTERview






Authenticity and Fraud Protection for Companies that Rely on Digital Media


Nicos Vekiarides

CEO


Attestiv, Inc.

www.attestiv.com


Contact:

Brie Pendleton

Director of Digital Strategy & Marketing

brie@attestiv.com


Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor

CEOCFO Magazine

Published – March 29, 2021


CEOCFO: Mr. Vekiarides, according to the Attestiv website, you are on a mission to provide authenticity into all digital media. What does that mean and how are you doing so?

Mr. Vekiarides: We provide a platform for companies that rely on digital media, photos and videos, in order to make their business decisions. We use AI and blockchain technologies to determine the authenticity of photos, videos and other forms of digital media so that we can protect businesses against fakes, fraud, reputation damage and disinformation.


CEOCFO: What are the challenges in creating a platform that can actually do what you say and not just pretend to do it as is often the case?

Mr. Vekiarides: There were challenges around making it work. A lot of deep technology goes into this. We utilize AI that involves creating training sets to ensure that it works for customer data. For instance, we work with insurance companies and we process large batches of photos, whether damaged automobiles or homes.


We train our system and measure the accuracy with which it works. While it may sound relatively straightforward on the surface, there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Our system works in real-time because typically people want results immediately. The ability to provide instantaneous results makes us unique.  


CEOCFO: When did you decide you had enough critical mass for the AI to be effective?

Mr. Vekiarides: It’s tough to say we are really there because the threats keep changing and our system has to continue to learn and get smarter. As a percentage, somewhere above 90% effectiveness means that we can make a big difference for companies that are suffering from fraud.


The best way to think about the benchmark is that if we can eliminate 90% of the fraud or 95% of the fraud then we are doing really well -- we are providing a lot of value and return on investment for our customers.


CEOCFO: If I am sending in a photo of my car, am I trying to make it look worse than it is, is it outside sources affecting the image or both? What types of problems are you checking for in regard to fraud?

Mr. Vekiarides: There are a number of issues we detect. Some of them can simply be the time and location that a photo or video was taken. If I submit old photos, that is a problem. If I find a photo and download it from the internet that looks like my vehicle, if a hurricane hits and I happen to be in the wrong location taking photos, we can detect that. As far as the Photoshops and the photo editing or even the video editing tools that are available today, they have really become child’s play, and we have to identify these types of manipulations.


As the world moves to self-service for operations like insurance claims, there is a need for more trust and that is where we come in. We help you understand that the photos have not been tampered with in any way. Even in the case of a mistake, perhaps an adjuster went to the wrong site, we can flag that.


CEOCFO: Would you tell us how the fingerprint is encrypted and stored in blockchain?

Mr. Vekiarides: The important thing about the fingerprint is it has to encapsulate all the information in the photo including metadata, meaning the time, date and location. Essentially, it is an encrypted identifier that sits on the blockchain, where it is virtually immutable, and it validates the photos. Any change that you make to the photo will be evident when you go back and recalculate the fingerprint.


The other thing about the fingerprint that is important, from a compliance perspective, is it does not store any private information, so there is nothing visible in the fingerprint.


CEOCFO: Attestiv recently introduced your product for healthcare, what is involved in that and how is it different perhaps from some of your other solutions?

Mr. Vekiarides: It is an evolution of our existing product. We offer authenticity which is very important in the healthcare world as it pertains to data integrity. With the world moving into telehealth, particularly in light of COVID, we are relying on photos and videos in order for healthcare providers to make a diagnosis. It becomes of paramount importance that healthcare photos maintain integrity.


At the same time, there are other elements that are very useful in terms of HIPAA compliance, such as being able to de-identify the photos, say for dermatological visits, that might be sent to an outside lab for processing, you can better maintain compliance and prevent any possible breaches.


CEOCFO: Are people in healthcare concerned about this and are they looking for a solution like Attestiv, or is it more that it is something they will be happy to find out when they realize it exists?

Mr. Vekiarides: Data integrity is a key part of compliance and an important consideration when transitioning from in-person clinical visits to telehealth. Telehealth is seeing a lot more use and integrity of photos is becoming a lot more important as a result of this evolution of clinical care.


CEOCFO: Would you be working directly with individual healthcare facilities or providers or are you partnering with other systems that are already in place?  How are you reaching the health market?

Mr. Vekiarides: We are working with the newer breed of telehealth providers and providers in labs who are utilizing AI in order to do their diagnosis. We see the opportunity in healthcare providers that can deliver medicine remotely.


CEOCFO: Is it relatively easy to get attention from this group?  How does the COVID environment fit into what you are doing?

Mr. Vekiarides: I think the current times have put an emphasis on self-service and remote visits rather than in-person visits. What it has brought to light is an emphasis and concern if somehow photos are altered or corrupted. Automation and self-service is driving a need for digital media authenticity.


CEOCFO: When you are working with an organization in any industry, once they start with you is there automatically an alert if there is a problem? How does the system work on a day-to-day basis?

Mr. Vekiarides: We have a platform that can be connected via APIs, so it’s easy to integrate. For instance, we can plug into an existing system via API and when the photos come in, we can analyze them in real-time and provide a score. Effectively, the user model stays the same. It just so happens that when the photos land, there is now an analysis that goes with them. Oftentimes our customers do nothing with the analysis unless we find an anomaly at which point, they take action such as requesting a new set of photos or perhaps they start to suspect fraud.


CEOCFO: What about with videos?  What are some of the challenges in that arena?

Mr. Vekiarides: We can detect if videos are altered or edited. With deepfake technologies, people are using AI to create fake videos of people and essentially put words in their mouth. That is becoming more and more difficult to spot as deepfake systems are becoming much more elaborate and advanced.


There are a lot of nuances with video. If you have a full-blown production studio, then you can do a lot of things outside of the camera lens. We can ensure that nothing changes from the point that it was captured from the camera lens but on the other hand, if you have an elaborate studio, you can sometimes stage an alternative reality.


CEOCFO: How is business these days?

Mr. Vekiarides: Business is good. We are seeing a lot of demand from insurance carriers. We are seeing some new interest in other spaces including healthcare, public safety and government.


CEOCFO: How are you learning to deal with some of the challenges working with governments?

Mr. Vekiarides: Certainly government decisions happen a lot more deliberately than in other industries, but on the other hand, there are very clear needs whether it is examining images or preventing disinformation, where we can add value. We have to consider that bit of extra effort to land a government deal, but it is typically worth it in terms of the overall opportunity.


CEOCFO: What has changed in your approach at Attestiv; what have you learned along the way?

Mr. Vekiarides: A lot of things! We have learned how to better integrate and package our products. Often, authenticity has to be part of a solution. For instance, in law enforcement or healthcare, it may require other pieces of automation such as image redaction. In an insurance carrier, it may require different types of automation around document capture or workflows that customers use. What has really changed is the way that we deliver our product and make it easier for our customers to consume.


CEOCFO: What is ahead for 2021?

Mr. Vekiarides: We are in a very exciting space. There is a lot going on in terms of fakes and deepfakes. Recently there was a CNBC report that the FBI issued a warning about the deep fake threat to US corporations. People are taking videos of executives and CEOs and using them for purposes of fraud or disinformation. The use of fake media is spreading and now it is becoming mainstream.


As we look at the coming years, we will be expanding our solutions so that we can address the needs of any company that is concerned about fraud, their reputation and disinformation.


CEOCFO: What if anything might someone miss when they look at Attestiv?

Mr. Vekiarides: Potentially they might miss the number of use cases for this technology. In the past twenty years, I have been involved in other startups that have been encouraging digital transformation. By digitizing assets, we have come to the point where people are asking if they are real, if they have been altered, or if they are fake. It is happening not just industry-wide, but in everybody’s lives.


Trillions of digital photos are being taken every year. The application to various aspects of everyone’s’ lives is really starting to hit home. When you first look at us you may think of insurance solutions but, in reality, all of us rely on photos, we all rely on videos, but we are often believing less of what we see. In these times, we may wind up questioning the authenticity of digital media more often than not.


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“All of us rely on photos, we all rely on videos, but we are often believing less of what we see.” Nicos Vekiarides


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