Experts Warn ChatGPT Potential to Democratize Cybercrime

June 3, 2023

IT experts have expressed their trepidation over ChatGPT potential to democratize cybercrime. They fear it could enable new hackers with little technical know-how to craft more convincing phishing emails and malicious code than what cybercriminals currently possess.

Security researchers have recently come across discussions on hacking forums about using ChatGPT for illicit purposes. These posts appear to have been made by less technically adept cybercriminals and originate from new accounts.

What Is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence that creates text based on conversations between humans. It can be employed for creative writing projects, website content creation and applications – just to name a few!

OpenAI, a San Francisco-based AI research company funded by billionaires Elon Musk and Sam Altman, has created this text using an expansive language model and advanced machine learning algorithms that mimics natural human conversational flow.

To create the model, researchers scraped vast amounts of human-written data from the internet and fed it into a deep learning neural network. This included books, articles, and other documents across all genres and styles. Afterward, the neural network was trained on these documents in order to make predictions about which text should follow next.

To guarantee that their model was learning from various types of human conversations, researchers had to ensure they provided context-specific information about each conversation. This involved analyzing both the words used in a given exchange as well as what other participants said about that same topic.

This helps the model comprehend different viewpoints on a given topic and formulate appropriate responses. Furthermore, it teaches the AI how to make intuitive, coherent statements.

It’s also an effective way to teach your AI what to expect in future conversations, so the next time you ask it to respond to something, it understands the context and what was said by the other person and can thus produce a response that makes sense.

However, Bleeping Computer recently highlighted some potential drawbacks to this approach. AI is unregulated and unbound by morals or ethics so it could unknowingly deliver offensive responses, spread misinformation, craft phishing emails with malicious intent, be sexist or racist in its actions – the list goes on and on.

Second, because it learns from the internet, it cannot guarantee its biases are not present in what information it pulls. That could lead to harmful pullups online without your knowledge, potentially leading to attacks or malware in the future.

What Are the Potential Threats?

A recent survey of 1,500 IT decision makers across North America, UK, and Australia revealed that 74% are worried about the potential dangers of ChatGPT for cybersecurity. This includes global concerns about hackers using it to craft more convincing phishing emails with fake names. Furthermore, 71% think foreign states may already be employing ChatGPT for malicious attacks against other countries.

According to this research, ChatGPT could enable hackers to hone their specialized skills and gain technical proficiency, allowing them to craft more convincing phishing emails that are likely to receive a positive response from victims. Furthermore, ChatGPT could be utilized for disseminating misinformation through social media and other channels.

Check Point, a cybersecurity firm, has warned that ChatGPT has already been weaponized by cybercriminals. “Cybercriminals are using it to craft malware and ransomware,” asserts Sergey Shykevich from Check Point. Additionally, some attackers are employing the tool in order to build marketplaces where illegal or stolen items can be sold.

Furthermore, ChatGPT is being exploited by hackers to create software that circumvents security controls and blocks users from accessing the internet. According to one security researcher, this could result in a massive cybersecurity breach.

Another worry is that ChatGPT could pose a threat to mental health and safety. This is due to its interactions with people, which may sometimes lead to mistakes that are not necessarily harmless.

However, the company emphasizes that ChatGPT does not make mistakes automatically and is only limited by its training. It must be specially trained for each task; it cannot learn everything at once.

Testing and retraining are necessary to guarantee its accuracy, as well as to make sure it responds appropriately when called upon. Nonetheless, it remains an invaluable asset for cybersecurity professionals to have in their toolboxes.

ChatGPT-powered chatbots can offer businesses an enhanced customer experience by automating workflow routing and task management for customer service representatives. Furthermore, it saves time and resources by automatically identifying the most qualified agents to answer questions based on their availability. Ultimately, this will enable businesses to remain competitive in today’s rapidly transforming technological landscape.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

Chatbot platforms have gained popularity, but cybersecurity professionals warn they could democratize cybercrime and make it easier for malicious actors to steal money, data and identity. Anyone with enough convincing email content and ability to craft malicious software with ChatGPT should take steps to safeguard themselves against this danger.

Recently, Check Point researchers issued a blog post warning of the potential for criminals to leverage ChatGPT for malicious tools and grow their attack operations. They noted that they had observed early instances of cybercriminals working with ChatGPT on underground hacking forums, creating infostealers, encryption tools and facilitating fraud activity.

Attackers have demonstrated how to create scripts for Dark Web marketplaces for trading illegal goods, such as payment data and malicious software. Furthermore, they used ChatGPT to create malware strains and other supporting software.

According to Check Point, security firm they observed discussions on underground cybercriminal forums where Russian hackers sought ways to circumvent OpenAI’s API restrictions to access ChatGPT for malicious purposes. These hackers sought methods such as circumventing geofencing, payment card and phone number restrictions in order to gain access to ChatGPT.

Though these restrictions can help safeguard ChatGPT against malicious use, they can still be circumvented by experienced threat actors. According to researchers, hackers find the AI-based tool appealing due to its ease of use and potential quick and inexpensive build of powerful hacking tools – even without programming experience.

Experts urged businesses to assess how best to safeguard users against attacks using this new technology. They suggest implementing measures such as background checks, two-factor authentication and regular security updates in order to prevent these threats from spreading widely.

Cybercriminals have also used ChatGPT to craft dating scams that impersonate women and lead their victims into fraudulent relationships. These attacks are particularly targeted at young girls who are particularly vulnerable to online dating and social engineering attacks. By impersonating a young girl, attackers gain trust and have lengthy conversations with their targets – leading to financial losses as well as emotional trauma for victims.

What Can You Do?

ChatGPT bot has seen unprecedented growth, and hackers are using it to spread malware. They create fake applications and websites that look exactly like legitimate versions of ChatGPT but are intended to spread phishing attacks.

Experts have warned that ChatGPT could be democratizing cybercrime, making it simpler for anyone to quickly create malicious code to target victims in various ways. The tool makes crafting convincing phishing emails possible and could even automate spearphishing campaigns.

Researchers from Check Point have uncovered multiple instances of criminals using the tool to create hacking tools that can encrypt files, steal information and circumvent antivirus software. Some of these instruments were created from scratch while others have been modified from existing malware.

These tools have the potential to cause havoc on our lives, whether that means stealing personal data or instigating political and automated disinformation campaigns that amplify social media propaganda. As a result, cybersecurity experts are encouraging companies to take steps to safeguard their APIs from abuse.

To achieve this, IT administrators should implement a strict password management policy and require users to use unique and complex passwords. Furthermore, CISOs should utilize multi-factor authentication and two-factor authentication in order to further protect their networks from unauthorized access.

Although these measures are not 100% secure, they can help mitigate attacks launched by malicious actors who utilize ChatGPT. A CISO should remain alert when monitoring their network for changes that could indicate an impending attack, such as increased network traffic or suspicious behavior.

To protect their users from malicious chatbots, CISOs should ensure their network is patched and regularly scanned for vulnerabilities. They should also install antivirus solutions such as Symantec’s or McAfee’s on all devices in order to scan users’ computers for viruses.

Experts have warned that ChatGPT could pose a security threat to our networks and businesses, but the root of the issue lies not in AI but rather human nature. While it’s possible for people to abuse new technologies, companies can make themselves more secure by following best practices and involving the community in combatting cybercrime.

Ammar Fakhruddin

ABOUT AUTHOR

Ammar brings in 18 years of experience in strategic solutions and product development in Public Sector, Oil & Gas and Healthcare organizations. He loves solving complex real world business and data problems by bringing in leading-edge solutions that are cost effective, improve customer and employee experience. At Propelex he focuses on helping businesses achieve digital excellence using Smart Data & Cybersecurity solutions.


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