Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been hailed as a revolutionary technology with limitless potential. However, as with any powerful tool, there is always a downside. Analysts have warned that cyber scammers could exploit AI to enhance their malicious activities. In this article, we will explore how AI could increase the risk of online crime and highlight the potential dangers it poses.
One of the most well-known AI tools is ChatGPT, a chatbot that has gained significant popularity. Its success has paved the way for other chatbots like Google’s Bard. Unfortunately, this convergence of AI technology and cybercrime has opened new avenues for scammers. Online forums are now filled with cybercriminals exchanging tips on how to leverage chatbots to generate phishing emails. While major players in the industry have implemented measures to block the generation of such emails, developers have designed programs like FraudGPT and WormGPT specifically aimed at creating phishing messages.
The effectiveness of these AI tools in generating phishing emails is yet to be fully tested. However, experts believe that one of the significant advantages chatbots offer to phishing gangs is their ability to produce well-written content. Traditionally, dodgy spelling and poor punctuation have been telltale signs of phishing emails. With AI, scammers can accelerate the pace of attacks by generating phishing emails that are indistinguishable from genuine ones. This poses a significant challenge for internet users in identifying and protecting themselves from such scams.
The danger of cyber scams cannot be underestimated, given the scale of the problem. According to the FBI, they received a staggering 300,497 complaints related to phishing scams in the past year alone, resulting in losses worth $52 million. These figures clearly indicate the scale of the problem and the need for robust measures to counter cybercriminals’ exploitation of AI technology.
The risks associated with AI extend beyond phishing emails. There is a growing concern over the use of AI-generated voice deepfakes. Jennifer DeStefano, a mother from the United States, shared her harrowing experience of receiving a phone call from someone claiming to have kidnapped her daughter. The caller demanded a ransom of $1 million. Despite feeling certain it was her daughter’s voice, she soon realized it was an AI-generated imitation. This incident highlights the potential for scammers to use deepfake technology to impersonate loved ones or colleagues, leading to devastating consequences.
Cybercriminals are often proficient in technical tools, which can be exacerbated through AI. Scammers with limited coding knowledge can employ AI-driven chatbots to create malware capable of locking victims’ computers or gaining unauthorized access to files and accounts. While claims exist regarding the development of bespoke chatbots capable of performing such operations, solid evidence is scarce. Chatbots can identify flaws in existing code and generate malicious code, but they cannot directly execute it. Despite this limitation, the integration of AI into cybercrime activities has the potential to elevate scammers’ skills and capabilities.
Jerome Saiz, founder of French OPFOR Intelligence consultancy, believes that AI could serve as a coding tutor for cyber scammers with little talent or technical knowledge. Although coding malware from scratch using tools like ChatGPT is unlikely, Saiz foresees scammers leveraging AI to enhance their coding skills. This highlights the need for increased awareness and vigilance to combat the potential consequences of scammers exploiting AI technology.
While AI undoubtedly presents new risks, it is essential to differentiate between fear-driven concerns and actual threats. Shawn Surber from US cybersecurity firm Tanium reminds us that much of the apprehension surrounding the impact of generative AI on business risks stems from the fear of the unknown rather than specific, tangible threats. This viewpoint emphasizes the need for comprehensive research and analysis to understand the true extent of AI’s potential dangers in the context of cybercrime.
As AI continues to evolve and revolutionize various industries, including cybersecurity, it is crucial to recognize its potential risks. Cyber scammers are already finding ways to exploit AI technology and enhance their malicious activities. It is incumbent upon individuals, businesses, and cybersecurity experts to remain vigilant, stay informed about evolving techniques, and adopt proactive measures to mitigate the risks posed by AI-driven cyber scams. An understanding of these risks can empower us to protect ourselves from the ever-evolving landscape of cybercrime.