5 Intriguing Ways AI Is Changing the Landscape of Cyber Attacks

James McQuiggan KnowBe4 Security Awareness AdvocateIn today's world, cybercriminals are learning to harness the power of AI. Cybersecurity professionals must be prepared for the current threats of zero days, insider threats, and supply chain, but now add in Artificial Intelligence (AI), specifically Generative AI. AI can revolutionize industries, but cybersecurity leaders and practitioners should be mindful of its capabilities and ensure it is used effectively.

Amid the digital transformation, AI-based cyber attack techniques are emerging as a potent threat in our interconnected world. As these attacks become more advanced and unpredictable, cybersecurity professionals must upgrade their skills and knowledge to safeguard their personal and professional realms. From phishing emails crafted by AI to realistic deepfakes, the gambit of these cyber threats is broad and ever-evolving. By becoming acquainted with these techniques and their implications, cybersecurity professionals can better equip themselves to anticipate, detect, and counter these threats, contributing to more secure cyberspace.

Several concepts to consider are how AI is used in writing phishing emails easier, the threat of malicious chatbots, understanding the new malicious GPTs, battling polymorphic malware, and safeguarding against deepfakes.

Unmasking AI's Role in Crafting Phishing Emails

In an ever-evolving digital world, we see the increasing integration of AI into our systems, networks, and processes. With its myriad applications and the exponential rate at which it advances, AI offers immense value in various sectors. However, this also means that AI is increasingly wielded by threat actors who employ a diversified range of AI-based cyber attack techniques, strengthening the extent and sophistication of threats plaguing our cyber landscape. One such technique gaining traction is Generative AI's role in crafting phishing emails, which has surfaced as an alarming development in cybersecurity. Diving deeper into this issue proves crucial in properly equipping cybersecurity professionals against these stealthy, AI-driven threats. It became evident that cybercriminals are harnessing the power of AI to generate convincing phishing emails that are becoming increasingly difficult to discern from legitimate ones. Using platforms such as Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT)-3.5, in creating persuasive, human-like text has enabled low-level threat actors or script kiddies to devise phishing templates that can exploit targets into thinking malicious emails are genuine. 

For years, cybersecurity awareness training programs have recommended being alert for grammar or spelling mistakes, and this removes that hurdle for nation-state attackers or ones where English is not a strong proficiency for them. AI's profound role in the inception of such advanced phishing assaults underscores the urgency of acknowledging and understanding this cyber attack technique.

By understanding the diverse range of AI-based cyber attack techniques, cybersecurity professionals can be better equipped to detect anomalies, preemptively counter threats, and devise robust cybersecurity protocols. Using defensive phishing tools like KnowBe4's PhishER and PhishRIP to triage, identify, and remove malicious emails from your users' inboxes and reduce the risk of a successful attack. 

Understanding the Threat of Malicious Chat Bots

Another use of AI that cybercriminals are leveraging is the increasing potential of malicious chatbots. Exploiting the advancements in AI, cybercriminals are now using chatbots as potent weapons for their nefarious activities. Deceptively intelligent and highly adaptable, these chatbots can collect sensitive data, execute phishing scams, or spread malware, to name a few. Malicious chatbots are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their approach. Either attacking the web page itself or through cross-site scripting, they can engage in a human-like dialogue, tricking the user into believing they are communicating with an actual person. This interaction makes them an effective tool for executing phishing attacks. The threat posed by malicious chatbots is undeniably severe. It has significant implications for cybersecurity professionals as users of the organization may engage with chatbots and should be aware of the use and be mindful of whether it is a trusted site before engaging with the chatbot. Ultimately, this reminds us that as AI technologies become more advanced and integrated into our everyday lives, the importance of effective cybersecurity has never been greater.

Decoding the Dangers of AI Tools Like WormGPT and FraudGPT

Technology's relentless march of progress often comes with unintended consequences, a phenomenon that is particularly evident in our contemporary digital landscape. The growing advancements in AI, while clearly offering enormous benefits across numerous sectors, have also inadvertently furnished those with malicious intent with a new suite of tools to exploit for their own needs and benefits. The fascinating interplay of accessibility and potential misuse is evident in readily available AI tools such as WormGPT and FraudGPT. Captivating in their capacity for creating convincingly human-like text, they also hold the potential to empower nefarious activities such as phishing and the spread of malware. Here, the line between legitimate use and exploitation becomes blurred, leading to an engaging discourse on the ethical boundaries of AI implementation. 

These capabilities present a double-edged sword, which is the democratization of AI technology and a delicate balancing act of capitalizing on the immense potential of AI to enhance our lives while also comprehending and mitigating the risks it can spawn. While the tools themselves are not inherently risky, their usage can be. These insights contextualize why this understanding is essential, particularly in our increasingly interconnected world. Whether revolutionary or sophisticated, technology is merely a tool – an extension of human intent, capability, and action. The future at the intersection of technological maturation and ethical responsibility calls us to progress optimistically and cautiously. This condition is the paradigm of the digital age – a world where every advancement opens up new possibilities and threats in the same stroke. To navigate this landscape optimally, understanding the dangers posed by powerful AI tools, such as WormGPT and FraudGPT, becomes essential to our collective digital literacy.

Battling Polymorphic Malware and Its Ever-Evolving Code

Remember the child's game of hide and seek with the excitement, the thrill, and the anticipation of catching the one hiding or trying to find the best hiding spot to avoid getting caught? Cybersecurity deals with a more sophisticated digital version of 'hide and seek.' Only this time, it is not all fun and games; the stakes are high with invaluable, sensitive data on the line. At this point, it brings us to Polymorphic Malware's fascinating yet alarming world. These 'chameleons' of the digital space are malware that is constantly changing or mutating its code to evade detection. Awareness of this AI-based cyber attack technique is crucial to keep up with the continually evolving world of cyber threats. Polymorphic malware's cunning and innovative nature makes it exceptionally dangerous by changing its code for each iteration. Conventional methods of combating malware usually rely on identifying malicious code or patterns. However, with these types of malware, that approach comes up short, as they keep altering their code in a way that makes them nearly impossible to track accurately and consistently. They are like the Houdini of the cyber world – always one step ahead, leaving security professionals chasing shadows. An example is the infamous Storm Worm malware. This worm had the uncanny ability to change its form with each iteration, dodging antivirus software and employing peer-to-peer command mechanisms, making it difficult to root out once it infiltrated the space.  

In an interconnected world where data is the new gold, understanding and being equipped to battle against complex threats like polymorphic malware is critical. Implementing advanced detection methodologies, such as behavior-based systems, can help cybersecurity professionals to keep pace. Finally, fostering a culture of vigilance within organizations is equally important. Continuous education and staying aware of the latest developments in cybersecurity can go a long way in safeguarding us against the dark side of technology. It is a challenging yet thrilling game of digital hide and seek where we must outwit and outmaneuver our opponents to protect and preserve our digital universe.

Safeguarding Against the Manipulative Power of Deepfakes

One of the most talked-about manipulations is the creation of deepfakes. These incredibly real-looking and sounding imitations created using AI, designed to mimic or impersonate real people, can be used maliciously. The power of deepfakes lies in their ability to deceive, often appearing so legitimate it is difficult for even the most sophisticated technologies to distinguish them from the real deal. It was used to mimic a CEO of an organization to launch a CEO fraud attack against the CFO of the organization to steal money. They created an audio file of the CEO's voice, called the CFO, and left them a voice message, which was the deepfake audio recording. The message was a request to pay a vendor the CEO had just met with and stated the vendor was upset due to a significant missed payment to them. He needed the money wired immediately and then provided the banking information. While concerned about a missed payment, the CFO was about to transfer the funds but felt something was a bit off with the message and reached out to the CEO separately to verify. Much to his surprise, the CEO did not call him; it was a deepfake attempt to steal money from the organization.

As more individuals in the cybersecurity sector grapple with these potential threats, understanding the diverse range of AI-driven cyber attacks has become paramount to safeguarding against these malign uses of AI technologies. What makes deepfakes truly alarming is their pervasive nature. They can infiltrate numerous contact points, from email to social platforms and even phone calls. Hence, as cybersecurity professionals, it is vital to understand the technologies used for this manipulation and how to detect and disable them. Understanding and safeguarding against the manipulative power of deepfakes is essential in today's cyber environment. Cyber threats are often a distant concern until the day they impact organizations directly. The damage inflicted by deepfakes is not just abstract; it is personal, tangible, and becoming increasingly frequent. From a company's perspective, a successful scam can cause significant reputational damage and potential financial loss. Individually, the misuse of personal information can lead to emotional distress and identity theft. Investing time to understand how AI technologies and deepfakes work and measures to detect and nullify them is no longer just advisable; it is a necessity. The balance hangs in taking advantage of AI's benefits while removing its potential detriments. By understanding the mechanisms of deception, we are one step closer to successfully combating them.

Unraveling the complexity of AI-based cyber attacks is an undertaking of great importance to cybersecurity professionals. The takeaway insights on phishing emails, malicious chatbots, AI tools, the evolving nature of polymorphic malware, and the deceptive power of deepfakes have opened a new perspective on the challenges faced in this field. Knowing how to decode these threats is a crucial step toward strengthening defense strategies. As AI expands, cybersecurity professionals should continue to understand the need to demystify AI's impact on cybersecurity.

The Dark Side of AI: Unmasking its Threats and Navigating the Shadows of Cybersecurity in the Digital Age

 Dark-Side-of-AI-SOCIAL-LIVE-GMTArtificial Intelligence (AI) has come roaring to the forefront of today’s technology landscape. It has revolutionized industries and will modernize careers, bringing numerous benefits and advancements to our daily lives. However, it is crucial to recognize that AI also introduces unseen impacts that must be understood and addressed for your employees and your organization as a whole.

Join James McQuiggan, Security Awareness Advocate at KnowBe4, for this thought-provoking webinar where he’ll discuss the unforeseen threats of AI and how to protect your network.

Watch It On-Demand Now!

Don't like to click on redirected buttons? Cut & Paste this link in your browser: https://info.knowbe4.com/dark-side-of-ai?partnerref=blog

Return To KnowBe4 Security Blog

Subscribe to Our Blog

Comprehensive Anti-Phishing Guide

Get the latest about social engineering

Subscribe to CyberheistNews