Artificial intelligence (AI) tools are becoming popular among modern companies, especially generative and chat-based AI, such as ChatGPT and Bard. These tools unlock new possibilities for content creation, automation and research. They are often used to streamline workflows, save time on tedious tasks and create various collateral for companies, like spreadsheets, articles and code.
AI tools are certainly beneficial for business, but what about the threats that come from open-source software and AI-generated malware? These tools rely on human input, after all – they learn from the collective information put in by humans on a daily basis. This means that AI can also be used for malicious purposes at a time when cyber security seems to be at the forefront of almost every industry.
This creates many questions. Can hackers use AI to create spyware code and gain access to your company’s files? Can ChatGPT be used to impersonate employees or senior management in phishing attempts? How is AI being used by cyber criminals to take advantage of gaps in cyber security processes? Business leaders need to understand the new threat landscape created by AI tools.
Cyber criminals are using AI tools
A staggering 3.4 billion phishing emails are sent every single day! In addition, 450 000 new malware codes are generated every 24 hours. AI tools are certainly being used in these processes to create convincing email wording and foolproof malware code.
Cyber security agencies have warned that AI chatbots can be used to store personal data, which can then be used to create sophisticated phishing scams. The reported incidents of phishing attacks are increasing by 61% year-on-year, and this has largely been spurred on by generative AI tools since 2022.
There is an interesting conundrum that happens with email filters and phishing attempts. Spelling mistakes are the easiest way to spot fake emails, but hackers will sometimes include typos on purpose to bypass email filters. They can take perfect wording from AI and add one or two spelling errors to make it seem more human. This allows some phishing emails to bypass filters and reach their intended targets.
Data privacy at the fore of AI tools
It’s no secret that some AI software stores your private data. Unlike search engines that avoid indexing certain information, documents and webpages, AI tools scrape the internet to ‘teach’ the algorithms. This means that large language models could be used by hackers to find sensitive information.
Personal data, like ID numbers, phone numbers, email addresses and residential addresses could be used by cyber criminals in phishing attempts. By carefully prompting AI, hackers might be able to gain access to the data being stored on websites with slack cyber security measures. While this is largely theoretical, it is a scary probability that exists.
One silver lining is that these AI tools won’t follow overt instructions to create malware or phishing emails; they cannot automate cyber threats. Generative AI tools make predictions based on training, data and positive reinforcements to responses. They are designed to abide by laws when it comes to malicious prompts.
AI is more beneficial than harmful
If there is a possibility to use AI for cyber crime, then it can also be used to help security teams. This is why security software developers and in-house cyber security teams need to be trained on how to understand AI tools inherently. They can used to prevent cyber attacks, especially phishing attempts, by identifying suspicious language.
Security teams should start implementing AI tools in their everyday operations. They present many great opportunities for companies, not just threats. However, business owners cannot lose sight of these threats, otherwise, they could be caught out. Like many transitions we’ve gone through before, companies need to be prepared and consider the various ways to use AI tools for good and bad.
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