How Cybercriminals Are Leveraging on the “AI-boom” and How to Stay Protected

The introduction of ChatGPT and Midjourney kickstarted the so-called AI boom. While these generative language and image models opened a realm of possibilities in numerous industries, they also became a tool used by bad actors.

Through the use of sophisticated automation, deepfake technologies, and conversational chatbots, cybercriminals manipulating and deceiving people out of their money. 

A recent study by security software company McAfee surveyed 7000 people, finding that around 77% of them had fallen victim to AI voice scams, suffering financial consequences as a result. 

So how are artificial intelligence tools fueling cybercrime and what are the best preventive measures to stay protected? Let’s find out.

Sophisticated writing and multilingual options

Enthusiasts of streaming services or Push Gaming may be more enticed to click on emails that promise good offers or deals. Hence, fraudsters and cybercriminals have been taking advantage of netizens by crafting phishing messages. 

Yet, such messages were infamous and relatively easy to spot due to their numerous spelling and grammar mistakes. Yet, thanks to the introduction of language models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, BARD, and LlaMA, to name a few, scammers are able to generate well-written and error-free texts. Not only can they produce decent writing, but they can also replicate the tone and style of established brands, companies, or authorities.  

Generative AI offers the possibility to translate text in numerous languages. Hence, phishing emails are being translated into Spanish, French, Vietnamese, and many others. 

Identity theft and synthetic fraud

Experts warn of a growing trend in online fraud, where scammers fabricate identities to deceive financial institutions or their customers, with the crimes expected to become more prevalent due to AI’s increasing adoption. 

Financial institutions responsible for loan servicing, credit card issuance, or credit checks have long grappled with criminals who pilfer personal information to create synthetic identities for illicit gains. This phenomenon, known as synthetic fraud, has evolved with the proliferation of generative AI technology. 

AI facilitates the creation of a digital footprint mimicking that of a genuine individual, using a manufactured identity or replicating another person’s activities to perpetrate impersonation schemes and extract sensitive information from unsuspecting victims.

A new survey of 500 fraud and risk experts, first reviewed by ABC News, shows that the financial industry is seriously concerned about the increasing number of fake online customers. They’re also concerned about whether banks and loan companies can keep up with the latest security and identity detection tech.

How to stay protected?

Cybercriminals using AI

1. Spot red flags

As a rule of thumb, it’s crucial to remain vigilant for multiple unsolicited emails, text messages, or calls citing too-good-to-be-true offers and/or demanding immediate payment. Any requests for personal information, log-in credentials, or payments via gift cards or any other untraceable method should raise suspicion as well.

When it comes to voice calls, be wary of suspiciously high-quality recordings devoid of any background noise, as this may indicate automated or AI-generated communication. 

2. Avoid oversharing online

While it is not possible to fully avoid being targeted by AI-powered scams or other types of fraud, you can make yourself less of a target. One way to do this is by keeping sensitive data personally identifiable information (PII) off social media, public forums, and the larger internet. Examples of PII include:

  • Full name
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Driver’s license
  • Mailing address
  • Credit card information
  • Passport information
  • Financial information
  • Medical records

3. Protect your systems

Finally, maintaining cybersecurity vigilance is essential to safeguard against potential threats. Avoid clicking on unknown software advertisements to mitigate the risk of malware infiltration. Instead, access websites directly through search engines or search for the website address if unfamiliar.

Opt for a reliable antivirus software and ensure it remains updated to detect and neutralize emerging threats effectively. Additionally, bolster your defenses by utilizing strong, unique passwords for all accounts. Together, the aforementioned measures will boost your security and reduce susceptibility to cybercrime. 

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Ashwin S

A cybersecurity enthusiast at heart with a passion for all things tech. Yet his creativity extends beyond the world of cybersecurity. With an innate love for design, he's always on the lookout for unique design concepts.