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Hackers promise artificial intelligence, install malware instead

Security analysts with the social-media giant have found malicious software posing as ChatGPT or similar AI tools. FILE PHOTO: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Security analysts with the social-media giant have found malicious software posing as ChatGPT or similar AI tools. FILE PHOTO: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Published May 4, 2023

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Meta on Wednesday warned that hackers are using the promise of generative artificial intelligence like ChatGPT to trick people into installing malicious code on devices.

Over the course of the past month, security analysts with the social-media giant have found malicious software posing as ChatGPT or similar AI tools, chief information security officer Guy Rosen said in a briefing.

“The latest wave of malware campaigns have taken notice of generative AI technology that’s been capturing people’s imagination and everyone’s excitement,” Rosen said.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, often shares what it learns with industry peers and others in the cyber-defence community.

Meta had seen “threat actors” hawk internet browser extensions that promised generative AI capabilities but contained malicious software designed to infect devices, Rosen said.

In general, it was common for hackers to bait their traps with attention-grabbing developments, tricking people into clicking on booby-trapped web links or downloading programs that steal data.

“We’ve seen this across other topics that are popular, such as crypto scams fuelled by the immense interest in digital currency,” Rosen said.

“From a bad actor’s perspective, ChatGPT is the new crypto.”

Meta has found and blocked more than a thousand web addresses that are touted as promising ChatGPT-like tools but are traps set by hackers, according to the tech firm’s security team.

Meta had yet to see generative AI used as more than bait by hackers, but was bracing for the inevitability that it would be used as a weapon, Rosen said.

“Generative AI holds great promise and bad actors know it, so we should all be very vigilant to stay safe,“ Rosen said.

At the same time, Meta teams were working on ways to use generative AI to defend against hackers and deceitful online influence campaigns.

“We have teams that are already thinking through how (generative AI) could be abused, and the defences we need to put in place to counter that,” Meta head of security policy Nathaniel Gleicher said in the briefing.

“We’re preparing for that.”

AFP