In a recent warning, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has expressed serious concerns about hackers harnessing generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools, such as ChatGPT, to facilitate cybercrime sprees with alarming ease. The use of AI chatbots has opened the door to various illicit activities, ranging from scammers refining their techniques to terrorists seeking advice on launching more devastating chemical attacks.
During a call with journalists, the FBI shed light on the potential dangers posed by the widespread adoption of AI models. A senior FBI official emphasized, “We expect over time as adoption and democratization of AI models continues, these trends will increase.” Bad actors have now started using AI to enhance their regular criminal activities, even going so far as to utilize AI voice generators to impersonate trusted individuals and deceive loved ones or the elderly for fraudulent gains.
This isn’t the first instance of hackers misusing AI tools like ChatGPT to develop harmful malware. Back in February 2023, researchers from Checkpoint discovered that malicious actors had manipulated a chatbot’s API, enabling it to generate malicious code and granting virtually any aspiring hacker access to virus creation capabilities.
Interestingly, the FBI’s stance on AI chatbot threats contrasts with some views expressed by cybersecurity experts in May 2023. Some experts argued that the potential risks of AI chatbots had been exaggerated, as hackers often preferred more traditional methods like exploiting data leaks and conducting open-source research to find better code exploits.
Martin Zugec, Technical Solutions Director at Bitdefender, was among those who contested the alarmist perspective, stating, “The majority of novice malware writers are not likely to possess the skills required” to bypass chatbots’ anti-malware measures. Moreover, Zugec emphasized that the malware code produced by chatbots tends to be of low quality, further dampening the severity of the issue.
As the adoption of AI models continues to grow, it remains to be seen how the cybersecurity landscape will evolve. While concerns over AI-driven cybercrime persist, experts are divided on the actual scale of the threat posed by AI chatbots and whether it indeed supersedes other conventional hacking techniques. As the battle between security measures and malicious intentions intensifies, organizations and individuals alike must remain vigilant and proactive in safeguarding against potential cyber threats.