Artificial Intelligence Can Help Everyone - Including Scammers. What to Look For.

Artificial Intelligence Can Help Everyone - Including Scammers. What to Look For.
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Table of Contents

We all knew that artificial intelligence (AI) would be a great disruptor. However, now that the era of AI is upon us, its potential dangers and existential risks seem even more threatening. We know that the benefits of AI are profound and that the world will likely flourish in ways previously unimagined. 

 

However, the dangers of AI are equally important to know about. Ignoring the risks of AI or championing the use of AI without acknowledging its dangers is irresponsible, perhaps even unethical. This post focuses on the dark side of AI. Specifically, we look at how AI tools can help scammers just as much as they can help you. 

 

First, let us briefly scope the AI market and ecosystem. The AI technologies market will surpass $1345 billion by 2030, rising at a compound annual growth rate of 36.8%. Nearly every industry on our planet will benefit from AI systems, ranging from healthcare and manufacturing to education and fintech. According to Gartner, almost 8 out of 10 corporate strategists view AI (specifically AI-powered analytics) as integral to their success between now and 2025, and this number is likely to keep rising. However, on the other side of the coin, danger lurks. 

 

With the deployment of AI comes a cascade of problems, including job losses, a rise in misinformation, potent cyberattacks, compromised personal data, and the negligence and discarding of one of the key ingredients of our success until now - human intelligence. In the hands of visionaries, philanthropists, and ethical industrialists, AI models can potentially help via automation and real-time decision-making processes to transform the world into a fairer, greener, and more advanced place. Conversely, in the hands of scammers and adversaries, it can cause chaos. 

 

Mitigating the risks of advanced AI is impossible if we ignore them. We need to get to work to tackle the potential risks of AI.     

 

Understanding Artificial Intelligence Risks

 

Geoffrey Hinton, widely considered to be “the godfather of AI,” has been distancing himself from the development of AI. Many perceive this as an omen of things to come. As AI advancements continue, new vulnerabilities arise. Some people believe that AI safety is achievable with robust safeguards, whereas others believe responsible AI is an oxymoron or a ticking time bomb. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. There’s no doubt that AI has transcended its science fiction origins to become part of the fabric of our lives. However, it’s also clear that AI risks are potentially catastrophic. 

 

Businesses, nations, and individuals are in a fierce arms race to develop the next chapter of AI. Some believe that that’s part of the problem. According to The New York Times, over 1000 prominent tech leaders signed an open letter in 2023 that called for a pause in the development of AI tools. Signatories include numerous heavy hitters, including Steve Wozniak and Elon Musk. This letter was in response to numerous trends in the AI development space, including the dramatic ripple effects of OpenAI’s ChatGPT (and GPT-4) and other robust large language models and chatbots (like Microsoft’s Bing) that leverage generative AI and machine learning algorithms. 

 

Parallely, threat actors and scammers are leveraging AI innovatively to exfiltrate data and devastate businesses, individuals, governments, and other organizations. The malicious use of AI makes data privacy a challenge. It also helps spread disinformation and populates social media platforms with dangerous deepfakes. AI risks will likely become a pandemic. Many argue that it already has. The best way businesses and individuals can protect themselves from the dangers of AI is by knowing the inherent vulnerabilities of this exciting new technology and how scammers are using it to their advantage. 

 

Biggest Dangers of Artificial Intelligence

 

The following are the top 15 dangers of artificial intelligence enterprises should be aware of. Here, we focus specifically on how hackers and scammers leverage AI to wreak havoc. 

 

Fake Content

 

Generative AI tools can produce high-quality multimedia artifacts. Soon, they will be good enough to produce multimedia equal to what a human can produce. While this may seem like a comparatively low concern, scammers can use fake AI-generated media in myriad ways to trick individuals and businesses.   

 

For a business, even the slightest rumor or fake story about malpractice or unethical activities can cause reputational damage. Now, with the ability to create incredibly realistic fake media, adversaries can plant fake stories about companies and wreck reputations.  

 

Exacerbating Biases

 

Large language models can only do what their training data sets enable them to. Many argue that generative AI is inherently biased. However, the larger problem is when scammers and threat actors begin manipulating training data to exacerbate the biases of an AI tool. By altering these data sets and interfering with machine learning algorithms, adversaries can cause chaos. 

 

AI biases can also create a sense of uncertainty within enterprises about how they use AI and adjacent technologies. For instance, if a threat actor meddles with training data to negatively manipulate AI, key teams and personnel, including the C-suite of an organization, may start having second thoughts about AI. That sort of disorganized and fragmented mentality about AI can affect businesses. 

 

Review Spamming 

 

By leveraging AI technologies, scammers can spam product review pages with massive volumes of fake reviews. This can mislead customers into buying poor-quality or counterfeit products. 

 

Furthermore, it will dent sales for legitimate businesses because existing and potential customers may choose to purchase products and services from highly-rated competitors without knowing that those ratings are AI-generated and fake. 

 

Voice Cloning Scams

 

Voice biometrics have been increasing in value. Many businesses and individuals use voice biometrics as a form of authentication to gain access to cloud-based environments full of sensitive data. Threat actors have been utilizing AI to steal voices, recreate voices, and trick innocent victims into sending money, cryptocurrency, and sensitive information by pretending to be loved ones or family members. Modern AI allows scammers to create very realistic voices, making matters worse.

 

Threat actors can use AI-doctored voices to bypass security mechanisms and authentication protocols and access a business's crown jewel data. With voice cloning scams, threat actors can also make phone calls or recordings as fake business representatives to cause repetitional damage. 

 

Bypassing AI Detection Mechanisms

 

One of the dangers of AI, especially in the hands of scammers, is that it can counteract the positive applications of AI. For instance, organizations implement AI detection mechanisms in numerous contexts to ensure that AI isn’t interfering with systems and projects that necessitate human involvement, intelligence, and creativity. However, because threat actors are leveraging AI themselves, they can bypass some of these AI detection mechanisms.

 

Companies should also remember that they aren't the only ones leveraging AI technologies. Very often, the modern battle between enterprise's defenses and threat actors involves AI-driven tools. Therefore, it's vital to know that adopting AI doesn't negate AI-driven threats. Businesses can weave AI into their ecosystem, but they have to do so responsibly and with security in mind.

 

Fake News

 

Fake news is a scourge that affects multiple geographies and contexts. In both American and global contexts, threat actors use fake news as a political weapon. Without the capabilities of AI tools, it’s painstaking to create and deploy large volumes of realistic and believable fake news. However, now that adversaries wield powerful AI tools, fake news spreads faster and wider than ever before. 

 

Adversaries can publish fake news stories about their victims on various websites, blogs, and social media. They can even do so in the guise of legitimate journalists or publications. Often, even if businesses embark on campaigns to debunk these lies and myths, public perception may remain forever altered. This can severely dent sales and limit future growth.

 

Enterprise-Level Blackmail 

 

Blackmail is one of the oldest forms of crime. However, advanced AI algorithms enable threat actors to enhance blackmail in both scale and potency. This is because robust AI tools can analyze and pull from vast amounts of data to find sensitive information that can make an innocent victim vulnerable. 

 

In the past, it was possible for threat actors to blackmail individuals. Now, with technological advancements in AI, they can blackmail entire enterprises. It's not impossible for businesses to bounce back from such large-scale blackmail campaigns. However, the time and resources that it takes can leave long-term scars.  

 

Manipulating Facial Recognition

 

Amongst the scarier dangers of AI is the ability to bypass seemingly bulletproof systems. Let’s take facial recognition systems as an example. For the most part, we regard facial recognition as one of the truest and safest forms of authentication. However, with advanced AI and deep learning mechanisms, scammers and threat actors can bypass facial recognition requests with the help of AI-generated morphed images. 

 

Numerous businesses use facial recognition as a form of authentication. Remote employees may use it to access certain digital services on personal devices as well as enterprise endpoints. By manipulating facial recognition, threat actors essentially forge keys to an enterprise's most valuable vaults.

 

Downtime and Disruptions

 

Scammers and threat actors can use AI tools to shut down an enterprise’s critical IT and digital infrastructure. The time an enterprise takes to bounce back from such attacks is enough for threat actors to exfiltrate data and cause other damages. Furthermore, every second of downtime and service disruptions costs enterprises thousands of dollars. Additionally, they may suffer from reputational damage because modern customers are unforgiving when it comes to service speeds and quality.

 

Large-Scale Phishing Campaigns

 

Phishing, a type of social engineering attack, is one of the most commonly used techniques to facilitate data breaches. The effectiveness of phishing campaigns hinges entirely on how realistic a fraudulent message sounds. By using generative AI tools, including ChatGPT, scammers can increase the scale of their phishing campaigns. Furthermore, they can also ensure that their fraudulent requests sound more realistic and believable than ever before.

 

Every year, more and more businesses become victims of phishing attacks. Phishing attacks are particularly dangerous because threat actors don't have to con an entire organization. Instead, they just need to get one employee with strong access privileges to provide critical data, access-related information, or money. Humans are the more fragile link in a business's security posture, which makes phishing attacks more potent. 

 

Malware Attacks

 

Last but not least, businesses must be wary of AI-powered malware and ransomware attacks. Scammers have always been able to deploy malware and inject malicious code into legitimate enterprise applications. The difference now is that scammers can deploy these attacks at previously unimaginable velocity and scales. By doing so, they relentlessly challenge an enterprise’s cybersecurity posture and practices. 

 

Various kinds of turbulence and instability around the world can make businesses even more vulnerable to malware and ransomware attacks. Cyberattacks during the COVID-19 pandemic are a good example of this. According to McKinsey, during the first wave of COVID-19, between February and March 2020, businesses faced a 148% spike in ransomware attacks.

 

Mitigating the Dangers of Artificial Intelligence

 

The dangers of AI listed in the previous section are just the tip of the iceberg. AI risks are wide and varied, and it’s impossible to know how threat actors and scammers might use AI in the future. Furthermore, the previous section highlighted how scammers use AI to threaten businesses and individuals. Even if these technologies aren’t in the hands of scammers, there are numerous other inherent AI risks that companies must be aware of. They include a lack of transparency, AI hallucinations, over-reliance, ethical problems, biases, compliance challenges, and numerous other existential risks. Understanding these AI risks and finding ways to mitigate them is a considerable aspect of enterprise risk management.  

 

The bottom line is that there’s no one way to perceive or use AI. AI is complex, and the discourse around it reflects that. Organizations must learn to ask the right questions about AI risks. However, patterns suggest that there will be no easy answers regarding the dangers of AI. 

 

Best Practices to Avoid AI Attacks and Scams

 

The following are the top best practices that businesses must follow to mitigate the risks of AI attacks and scams. 

 

Work With Cybersecurity Experts

 

Dealing with relentless barrages of AI scams and attacks can overwhelm most businesses. Businesses with exclusively in-house IT and cybersecurity teams and capabilities may find it harder than others. That's why it's important to collaborate with cybersecurity experts. Cybersecurity experts stay on top of AI attack trends and can think like cybercriminals. Therefore, with the help of cybersecurity experts, businesses can strengthen their security posture and plug gaps that they otherwise might not have noticed.

 

Champion Threat Intelligence Sharing

 

One important thing that enterprises can do to fight the dangers of AI includes partaking in and championing AI research and threat intelligence sharing. By supporting and participating in AI research, businesses can commit to understanding the true dangers of AI and how they can sidestep those dangers. 

 

Conduct Training and Awareness Campaigns

 

Businesses should also understand the implications of AI on their employees and workforces to see how AI can augment rather than completely replace their teams. They must also conduct training and awareness campaigns to teach employees about the dangers of AI-powered cyberattacks and scams.  

 

Assess Risks and Benefits

 

Most businesses will have to embrace AI to compete in saturated markets. The key to success with AI adoption is understanding the dangers of AI and conducting thorough risk-benefit analyses. Businesses must commit to establishing robust guardrails and policies to ensure the responsible and safe utilization of AI technologies.

 

Utilize AI-Driven Security Mechanisms

 

Lastly, all organizations must proactively optimize their cybersecurity posture. By using cutting-edge AI-powered cybersecurity tools, they can more effectively ward off AI-powered cyberattacks. 

 

Conclusion

 

In this post, we focused on the dangers of artificial intelligence. Specifically, we looked at the artificial intelligence risks that involved threat actors and scammers. While numerous inherent AI risks don’t require cybercriminals to cause damage, we highlighted 15 ways AI can help adversaries devastate businesses and individuals. They include fake media content, exacerbating biases, review spamming, voice cloning scams, manipulating financial markets, bypassing AI detection mechanisms, fake news, enterprise-level blackmail, manipulating facial recognition, drone control, hijacking military weapons, downtime and business disruptions, hacking self-driving vehicles, large-scale phishing campaigns, and malware attacks.  

 

We also established that these malicious use cases are just some of the numerous ways adversaries can potentially exploit AI capabilities for evil. The best ways businesses can mitigate these potent artificial intelligence risks include elevating AI research, understanding the implications of AI tools, prioritizing employees and human intelligence, conducting risk-benefit analyses, implementing strong AI guardrails, ensuring proactive optimization of cybersecurity posture, and adopting AI-based cybersecurity tools to fight off AI-based cyber attacks. 

 

The dangers of artificial intelligence can potentially overwhelm businesses. However, by responsibly and meticulously mitigating artificial intelligence risks, companies can unlock value like never before.  

 

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Categories: Security, Artificial Intelligence, AI Technology, Cyber Security, Malware, Cyber Crime, AI, Network Security, Security Breach, IT Security, Phishing, Data Breach, Cyber Attack, Cybersecurity, Dangers of Artificial Intelligence, Danger of AI, Voice Cloning Scam, Artificial Intelligence Risks

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