A Closer Look at AI Tools’ Influence on Cybersecurity and Threats

A Closer Look at AI Tools’ Influence on Cybersecurity and Threats

While AI technologies offer immense potential to bolster defenses against cyber threats, they also present a paradox: the same AI tools that can be harnessed to enhance security can also be exploited by cybercriminals to accelerate their attacks. This dynamic creates a complex and ever-evolving ecosystem where the lines between protector and perpetrator blur. In this article, let's examine the challenges and risks you may face with public AI tools such as ChatGPT.

What ChatGPT is All About

ChatGPT uses large-scale language models (LLMs), such as GPT-3 and GPT-4, to deliver impressive communication and improved performance, similar to human interaction.  

With this technological wonder that is ChatGPT, users can engage in discussions about coding in various programming languages, create content, compose messages and emails, ask questions, and even interpret spoken language into code. The best part is that ChatGPT is an interactive chatbot that offers logical and intelligent solutions.

Again, ChatGPT proves valuable as a resource for exploring the art of creative writing, developing ideas, and interacting with AI. 

Even better, the basic version is available to all users at no cost, while ChatGPT Plus users have access to more advanced features. The chatbot's ability to recall previous interactions improves its active and engaging performance.

Despite its popularity, ChatGPT faces competition from other AI technologies. For example, Google has developed Bard, an AI chatbot powered by its PaLM 2 language engine. Similarly, Meta has recently introduced their impressive LLaMA2 model. As the AI chatbot landscape evolves, one can expect increased rivalry and the emergence of innovations. Staying up-to-date on the latest advancements in this field is crucial to meet the ever-growing public demand for effective chatbot options.

Must Read: Shadow AI: The Emerging, Invisible Problem Putting Your Company's Data at Risk

The Security Risks and Challenges of ChatGPT

Firstly, privacy risk occurs from the data fed into ChatGPT and other LLMs through user prompts. Sometimes, users may unwittingly request tools to answer questions or perform tasks. During this process, they may unknowingly reveal sensitive information that becomes part of the public domain. For example, an attorney may prompt the tool to review a draft to a property dispute, or a programmer may ask to check a piece of code. 

Consequently, these documents become part of the LLM’s database, potentially used to prepare the tool and integrated into responses to other users' prompts.

Dark web

Hackers use the Dark Web Marketplace to replicate known malware strains and processes. Additionally, they can leverage ChatGPT to compose Java code and utilize the generated code for encoding and decoding data. According to a study conducted by Blackberry Global Research, 51% of IT leaders believe that ChatGPT will enable cyberattacks this year.

Data Theft 

Another cause for concern is data theft, as attackers employ various tools and techniques to steal sensitive information. The abilities of ChatGPT, such as impersonation, flawless text writing, and code creation, can be exploited by individuals with malicious intent. This factor raises concerns about the ease with which cybercriminals can carry out their activities.

Developing Malicious Code

The development of malicious code may become a significant security risk associated with ChatGPT as the AI chatbot evolves. Malicious hackers will utilize ChatGPT to create low-level cyber tools, including encryption scripts and malware, thereby accelerating cyberattacks against system servers. The coding capabilities of ChatGPT will allow hackers to recognize our system vulnerabilities by composing malware codes.

Phishing Mails

Another potential misuse of ChatGPT is phishing mail. According to Darktrace research, 73% of employees are worried that hackers may create scam e-mails with generative AI and be mistaken for authentic correspondence. 

A phishing e-mail often contains spelling and grammatical errors, which can be a red flag for recipients. However, there is a legitimate concern that hackers will utilize ChatGPT to write phishing mail that appears professionally written, making it more difficult for recipients to identify them as fraudulent. 

While ChatGPT is technically programmed to produce content free from malicious intent, the wording generated by the prompt can deceive both the AI and hackers.

Cyber attackers and hackers can create e-mail chains using simulated AI-powered ChatGPT to scam and persuade the receiver. This step allows them to draft several phishing attempts that mimic human-written messages with accurate punctuation and realistic-sounding content.

Bot Takeovers

When an unauthorized individual gains control over ChatGPT and exploits it for their own purposes, it poses a significant threat. This threat occurs either by successfully guessing the user's password or exploiting vulnerabilities in the code.

While ChatGPT bots are highly beneficial for automating various tasks, they also allow remote attackers to seize control. If the user wants protection from this risk, it is crucial to implement robust authentication protocols and regularly update the software to address any known vulnerabilities.

Impersonation

In a matter of seconds, ChatGPT can create text that closely resembles the voice and style of a person. For instance, it can produce convincing e-mails supposedly authored by individuals like Bill Gates and shared online.

When encouraged to compose a tweet in the style of Elon Musk, ChatGPT responded with a remarkably genuine tweet that could smoothly mislead others. This ability to simulate high-profile individuals poses a significant threat, as it could facilitate various forms of fraud. 

The rise in cryptocurrency scams, such as those involving fake Elon Musk endorsements, is a prime example. Such scams become even more convincing when written in the same style as the targeted person by an AI chatbot. Moreover, the scary ability of ChatGPT to imitate public figures may also lead to more whaling attacks.

Also Read: Top 13 Vulnerabilities and Its Solutions in Large Language Models

Malware Infections

Like any software platform, a ChatGPT system can be vulnerable to malware infections through user input or downloads from third-party sources. To protect oneself against this, users should install reliable antivirus software and conduct regular system scans to detect and eliminate potential threats before they can cause harm.

Spam

Typically, those who send spam invest a few minutes to draft their statements. However, with ChatGPT, they can immediately create spam text, significantly boosting their productivity. While most spam may be harmless, it is necessary to note that some spam messages may contain malware or direct users to malicious websites, posing a risk to unsuspecting recipients.

Brute Force Attacks

For protection against these attacks, use strong passwords and implement two-factor authentication for all system users. Also, set automated monitoring to detect any suspicious activities or attempts that try to access the system by force.

Ethical Dilemma

As chatbots powered by artificial intelligence become more prevalent, moral predicaments may arise when people use ChatGPT tools to claim credit for content they did not create. For instance, a rabbi in New York used ChatGPT to write a 1,000-word sermon, highlighting the need for empathy in AI-generated content. While ChatGPT may exhibit intelligence, it lacks compassion and the ability to create connections that bring people together.

Excessive Information and Limitations

Some systems may struggle to handle the substantial amount of data generated by ChatGPT. It is critical to be sure that your system has sufficient resources to manage high levels of traffic without becoming swamped.

Ransomware

Ransomware attacks have become profitable for racketeers and extortionists, who often purchase malicious code from ransomware creators on Dark Web marketplaces. However, researchers have discovered that ChatGPT can also yield malicious code capable of encrypting an entire system in a ransomware attack. This exposure highlights the need for vigorous safety measures to mitigate this threat.

Supply Chain Risks

To safeguard your data, it is crucial to thoroughly test and vet all third-party providers and conduct routine security audits on their systems. This step ensures that the service providers implement appropriate precautions to protect your data from breaches.

Privacy and Confidentiality Concerns

If users want to manage privacy and confidentiality issues, they should implement a secure communication protocol such as SSL/TLS. Additionally, any private data stored on the server should have encryption to ensure the privacy of user information. Furthermore, users must limit access to the data, requiring user authentication before granting authorization.

Inadequate Logging and Auditing

Insufficient logging and auditing can pose challenges in monitoring potential attackers. To resolve this issue, establish comprehensive logging systems that capture relevant data such as IP addresses, timestamps, and user accounts. This step prompts the rapid identification of any dubious activities.

Fake Information/News

In the era of clickbait journalism and social media, users may find it hard to distinguish between fake and genuine news stories. The reach of misinformation is a significant concern, as it leads to the distribution of gossip or direct users to malevolent pages. There is a particular worry that ChatGPT, a conversational AI, could be manipulated to generate bogus news stories and imitate the voices of celebrities. AI could circulate misinformation, potentially leading vulnerable users to fall prey to cons or reveal sensitive information.

Business E-mail Compromise (BEC)

Another threat is business e-mail compromise (BEC), a social engineering attack. Scammers utilize e-mail to deceive people within an institution into sharing confidential company data or making unauthorized financial transactions. While security software typically detects BEC attacks by identifying patterns, using ChatGPT makes it possible to bypass these security filters. Therefore, one must remain vigilant against such threats.

Suggested Read: Counter Gen AI Security Risks with Data Tokenization

Wrapping Up

With the increasing investment in Artificial Intelligence, the future of AI chatbots like ChatGPT and its competitors holds the ultimate promise. These chatbots will likely deliver faster, personalized, accurate, efficient, and intuitive solutions and responses.

However, it is essential to acknowledge that security issues associated with advanced chatbots like ChatGPT are part of the deal. As the technology evolves, threat actors may exploit these tools to create more advanced and dangerous malware. Additionally, scammers may leverage AI chatbots for more daring social engineering attacks.

The popularity of ChatGPT and similar chatbots is soaring. As technology develops, it is crucial for technology leaders to contemplate its implications for their teams, companies, and society. 

Failing to do that puts them at a disadvantage compared to their competitors in adopting and deploying generative AI for improved results in business. It also leaves them vulnerable to next-generation hackers who can already manipulate this technology for personal gain. Companies can defend their reputations and revenue when the industry unites to set the necessary safeguards and embrace the ChatGPT revolution rather than succumbing to fear.

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Rahul Sharma

Content Writer

Rahul Sharma graduated from Delhi University with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and is a highly experienced & professional technical writer who has been a part of the technology industry, specifically creating content for tech companies for the last 12 years.

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