Is ChatGPT a New Cybersecurity Threat?
There’s no doubt that ChatGPT, a new chatbot introduced by Open AI in November 2022, is a game changer. It’s already clear that this technology can handle numerous complex tasks and become an irreplaceable tool for various individual needs. In particular, ChatGPT can generate creative content, serve for marketing purposes, cover educational goals, help you with research, and many more….
There’s no doubt that ChatGPT, a new chatbot introduced by Open AI in November 2022, is a game changer. It’s already clear that this technology can handle numerous complex tasks and become an irreplaceable tool for various individual needs. In particular, ChatGPT can generate creative content, serve for marketing purposes, cover educational goals, help you with research, and many more. The bot can even write and debug code, so it can be adopted to accelerate and improve the development process.
Certainly, the extraordinary capabilities of ChatGPT can have a great positive impact on many industries, including cybersecurity, if used properly. But what if this powerful AI-driven tool falls into the wrong hands? Many experts are already warning us about the potential challenges ChatGPT may cause. Keep reading to learn more about ChatGPT security risks and ways to defend yourself.
Is ChatGPT good or bad for cybersecurity?
Since artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can automate many tasks, cybersecurity experts often adopt these technologies to detect bugs and spot system vulnerabilities. An efficient AI-driven tool can streamline those processes, save a lot of time, and reduce the risk of human error.
From this perspective, ChatGPT has great potential to continue and expand the AI revolution in the industry. According to a recent study, ChatGPT is no less efficient in debugging code than standard machine-learning approaches. Moreover, it may even outperform traditional tools thanks to its ability to keep a lively conversation and answer some additional questions if required.
To be more specific, let’s look at the most significant benefits of ChatGPT for cybersecurity.
- Enhanced efficiency. AI-driven tools like ChatGPT can handle numerous tasks and process large amounts of data much faster than humans. Their adoption saves time and resources, allowing companies to respond to security breaches adequately.
- Detection of cyber threats. ChatGPT is capable of identifying errors and abnormal patterns even the best QA professionals might miss. It can increase the accuracy of security testing and prevent the risk of critical vulnerabilities going unnoticed.
- Faster response time. Cybersecurity challenges should be handled as fast as possible as they are mostly related to sensitive and confidential information being compromised. AI tools like ChatGPT can work in real-time, allowing cybersecurity professionals to focus on more complex tasks requiring human input.
- New QA methodologies. ChatGPT can even speed up the development of new threat detection and quality assurance approaches. Although the bot’s answers are not always accurate, they can become the basis for future innovations in the field.
That said, it’s very likely that ChatGPT will soon become a developer’s and QA’s new best friend. But can it become a new best friend for a hacker?
As mentioned above, malicious actors may turn the advantages of this powerful AI tool into cybersecurity challenges. But before we move on to reveal those potential risks, let’s see what the bot has to say in its own defense.
ChatGPT vs. cybersecurity: the bot’s opinion
We asked ChatGPT if it may pose a risk to cybersecurity. And here’s the chatbot’s answer.
Now, let’s consider experts’ opinions and existing studies to add some more details to this response.
Main ChatGPT cybersecurity risks
ChatGPT has some built-in security features that prevent bad actors from using it for malicious purposes. For instance, if someone asks the chatbot to generate ransomware, it will refuse:
However, some recent experiments prove that cybercriminals may get around those measures. Here are the potential threats we may soon encounter due to the malicious use of ChatGPT.
Theoretically, any kind of AI-driven tool capable of writing code can also write malicious programs, such as malware. But with ChatGPT, it’s more than just an assumption. According to the Checkpoint Research report released in January 2023, threat actors on underground hacking forums already claim to use this OpenAI tool to generate harmful code that can infect devices and systems.
Moreover, another study conducted by Recorded Future shows that threat actors with limited programming abilities and skills can adopt ChatGPT to update the existing malicious scripts, making them more challenging to spot for threat detection systems. The same research also found numerous ChatGPT-related messages and ads on the dark web forums.
In fact, the interest in this AI technology keeps growing not only among legit businesses and Internet users, but also on the shady side of the web. Here is a figure showing the references to ChatGPT on the dark web and special-access online communities.
Phishing is a malicious technique cybercriminals use to send legit-looking emails and text messages to their victims. These notifications mostly contain spoofed links leading to shady websites or malware-infected files. Once you click on such a link or download such a file on your device, cybercriminals will access and compromise your private data.
What does it have to do with ChatGPT? Well, scammers can take advantage of this AI-driven technology to create even more convincing emails. Again, ChatGPT won’t allow anyone to create malicious content. But it’s easy to trick the chatbot’s security system here. As a result, a cybercriminal can get a perfect trap for their phishing campaigns – all they have to do is to fit a malicious link into the message generated by ChatGPT.
For instance, here is a “PayPal support alert” claiming that a user’s account is about to expire. And it looks quite authentic – no spelling mistakes and typos that are common for phishing emails and make them easier to spot.
Imposters and impersonation
Imposters are some of the most common types of Internet scams these days. Cybercriminals use these methods, pretending to be legitimate companies, popular bloggers, financial advisors, and other organizations or experts users tend to trust. However, they often fail to stick to a convincing tone when trying to impersonate legit services in their scammy messages and phishing attempts. Unfortunately, the ability of ChatGPT to provide human-like responses can become an effective tool for taking social engineering tricks to the next level.
For instance, suppose you received a message from a threat actor trying to convince you they are reputable crypto investment consultants. Thanks to ChatGPT, it will be easier for them to send compelling messages that cause no suspicion.
Apart from phishing emails and impersonation texts, ChatGPT can generate any kind of spammy content, such as fake giveaways, intrusive promotions, and deceptive ads. For instance, if scammers run a social media page to trick users into their trap, they may use ChatGPT capabilities to create as many posts and “tempting deals” as they need.
Of course, Google will likely block a website that consists entirely of the content generated by artificial intelligence. However, scammers may promote such sites through social media accounts and direct messages, making them more difficult to identify and avoid. Alternatively, they can encourage users to download malicious files infected with viruses.
On top of that, ChatGPT can help create other types of deceptive content, including fake news and propaganda. Disinformation has become one of the most significant concerns for Internet users worldwide long before the launch of ChatGPT. Now, with such a powerful tool in cybercriminals’ hands, this danger is becoming even more disturbing.
As you see, ChatGPT has the potential to scale various online threats and generate tons of scammy content for cybercriminals. But luckily, there are several effective security measures you can take to minimize those risks.
How to prevent ChatGPT-related threats
Here’s what you can do to shield yourself from ChatGPT-related cybersecurity challenges.
- Use ChatGPT responsibly. Your communication with ChatGPT is encrypted, so it’s unlikely that a threat actor can easily compromise it via a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack or a common brute force attack. However, since ChatGPT collects and stores potentially sensitive information, you shouldn’t neglect the risk of data and identity theft when using this chatbot. Besides, ChatGPT still has significant limitations that may result in false and misleading responses. That is why experts don’t recommend using it for really important matters.
- Learn to recognize phishing attacks. Whether generated via ChatGPT or any other way, phishing emails remain one of the most widespread online dangers these days. In fact, roughly 90% of data breaches are caused by phishing attacks. The best way to protect yourself from this threat is to double-check suspicious emails or messages and avoid clicking on unverified links. Even if the message looks 100% legit, it’s better to reach out to the official support team of the website or service you believe you’re dealing with.
- Keep your antivirus and other software updated. Most ChatGPT-related attacks target the weakest points of your device’s software. Updating it will help you get rid of the most critical vulnerabilities. A premium antivirus tool, in turn, is a must for every user who values their online security. So make sure to update it, as well.
- Create strong passwords. This simple yet essential cybersecurity measure will help you eliminate the risk of data theft. A strong password should be unique and regularly updated. Also, note that it’s better to avoid repeating passwords for your accounts on different platforms and apps. This mistake often results in password-stuffing attacks – after a data breach on a certain platform, hackers can compromise your account elsewhere.
- Use a virtual private network (VPN). This tool is an effective way to protect yourself online from various types of threats, including those related to ChatGPT and other AI technologies. A VPN hides your traffic from prying eyes and runs it through an encrypted tunnel. Besides, it alters your IP address, so no one can track your location and see what you’re up to on the web. Finally, a powerful security feature like VeePN’s NetGuard will prevent potential hacks and phishing attacks by keeping you away from malicious links, pop-ups, and third-party trackers.
Protect yourself from ChatGPT security threats with VeePN
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Is ChatGPT safe to use, and how can a VPN enhance its security?
In general, ChatGPT is relatively safe if used responsibly. It encrypts your communication with the bot, so third parties cannot directly compromise your traffic. However, it’s always better to safeguard yourself and add an extra security layer. That’s where a VPN comes in handy. It ensures end-to-end encryption for all your Internet activities, including your conversations with ChatGPT. So you can be sure that hackers and snoopers won’t access your sensitive information.
What are the risks associated with ChatGPT?
Here are some of the most significant threats related to ChatGPT and similar AI solutions:
- Hackers can write malicious code and malware with the help of ChatGPT.
- Threat actors can use ChatGPT to generate phishing emails and other scammy content.
- ChatGPT can be adopted to create fake news, propaganda, and disinformation.
For more information, read this article.
Is ChatGPT private, and how is user data protected?
When using ChatGPT, the main privacy-related risk is that malicious actors will interfere with your conversation and compromise your personal information. Luckily, the service encrypts your communication with the chatbot to protect your data. However, it’s also worth noting that ChatGPT itself collects your private data, including your IP, browser type, and information on your interactions. You can avoid sharing this information with the chatbot by using a reliable VPN like VeePN. For more details, read this article.