Malware from AI Bots

I received a notice from Wired magazine about the use of AI bots to infect a person's computer with malware. I normally don't blog about this kind of stuff, but I thought this important enough to say something about it. The following is an excerpt from the Wired page on this subject

AI applications are being turned to more nefarious uses, including spreading malware. Take the traditional scam email, for example: It's usually littered with obvious mistakes in its grammar and spelling—mistakes that the latest group of AI models don't make, as noted in a recent advisory report from Europol.

Think about it: A lot of phishing attacks and other security threats rely on social engineering, duping users into revealing passwords, financial information, or other sensitive data. The persuasive, authentic-sounding text required for these scams can now be pumped out quite easily, with no human effort required, and endlessly tweaked and refined for specific audiences.

There are two types of AI-related security threats to think about. The first involves tools such as ChatGPT or Midjourney being used to get you to install something you shouldn't, like a browser plugin. You could be tricked into paying for a service when you don't need to, perhaps, or using a tool that looks official but isn't. We're not particularly picking on ChatGPT here, but pointing out what's

possible once large language models (LLMs) like it are used for more sinister purposes.

To avoid falling into these traps, make sure you're up to date with what's happening with AI services like the ones we've mentioned, and always go to the original source first. In the case of ChatGPT for example, there's no officially approved mobile app, and the tool is web-only. The standard rules apply when working with these apps and their spinoffs: Check their history, the reviews associated with them, and the companies behind them, just as you would when installing any new piece of software.

The second type of threat is potentially more dangerous: AI that’s used to create text, audio, or video that sounds convincingly real. The output might even be used to mimic someone you know—like the case of the voice recording purportedly from a chief executive asking for an urgent release of funds, which duped a company employee.

While the technology may have evolved, the same techniques are still being used to try and get you to do something urgently that feels slightly (or very) unusual. Take your time, double-check wherever possible using different methods (a phone call to check an email or vice versa), and watch out for red flags—a time limit on what you're being asked to do, or a task that's out of the ordinary.

Following links you're not expecting from texts and emails is usually not a good idea, especially when you're being asked to log in somewhere. If your bank has apparently got in touch with a message, for example, go to the bank website directly in your browser to log in, rather than following any embedded link.

Keeping your operating systems, apps, and browsers up to date is a must (and this mostly happens automatically now, so there's no excuse). The most recent browsers will protect you against a whole host of phishing and scam attacks, whether the prompt designed to dupe you has been generated by AI or not.

There's no foolproof tool for detecting the presence of AI text, audio, or video at the moment, but there are certain signs to look out for: Think blurring and inconsistencies in pictures, or text that sounds generic and vague. While scammers may have scraped details about your life or your workplace from somewhere, it's unlikely that they know all the ins and outs of your operations.

In short, be cautious and question everything—that was true before the dawn of these new AI services, and it's true now. Like the face-morphing masks of the Mission: Impossible film series (which remain science fiction for now), you need to be absolutely sure that you're dealing with who you think you're dealing with before revealing anything.

It is a shame that there are people in this world who take pleasure in creating problems for others. Their small minds are able to think only of themselves. They are unable to realize that their very existence is due to the efforts of other people who have feeling hearts, something they seem to lack.

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