Michael D. Moore: Cyber crooks get new tool – AI changes everything

The report that a researcher used Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create world-class malware within just a few hours has turned the IT world upside down.

Hackers are generally known to invest extensive resources and time to create a single effective malware, so when an IT security researcher generated an effective, professional-grade product, the tech world began to listen.

Open AI such as ChatGPT, which we are all learning about, is capable of a far more rapid processing pace than the human brain. A typical response requires one second, which allows the AI user to respond to a question in real time.

Other platforms are Bard from Google, Ernie from the Chinese search engine Baidu, Sparrow from DeepMind, and BlenderBot from Meta.

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How fast is ChatGPT growing? Reuters News Service reports that ChatGPT reached 100 million monthly active users in just its first two months after the November launch.

Here’s why we’re concerned. This platform is versatile and can generate everything from articles and essays to jokes and even poetry whenever prompted. Yes, and even malware.

Microsoft is backing the technology and initially made it free. With this technology, hackers can create and deploy malware faster and more effectively with little to no technical ability.

What does this mean to you?

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– Even amateur hackers can now generate and deploy malware in hours instead of weeks. Once we find a solution for the first wave of malware, the second, third, and fourth waves have already attacked us.

– We are about to see malware at an explosive level with smarter ways to attack us, often based on the topics we search and the keystrokes we are typing.

– This revolutionary form of AI could eventually lead us to believe outrageous stories – even videos and audio – that will look and sound authentic. We won’t be able to distinguish the truth from the fake.

Consider that just recently, Open AI created a simulated podcast that mimicked podcaster Joe Rogan with impressive accuracy. Voice talent professionals that produce radio commercials now sign forms allowing the regeneration of their voices for other commercials with no additional compensation.

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Yes, this rapidly invading AI technology through ChatGPT and others will create security issues for us as individuals and our companies.

What are the next steps to protect your money, your future, and your data?

– Now more than ever, stay protected 24/7 with professional coverage. Gone are the days of slipping good old Bob in the sales department an extra $100/month because he seems to be “good with computers.” We have entered a new battleground and exponentially more attacks are on the horizon.

– If you don’t have the budget for a professionally trained IT security member on your team, you will be wise to engage the services of IT professionals that fight this battle every day.

– Regularly run a cyber security risk assessment with the latest protocols to ensure your assets remain safe.

– Use multi-factor authentication. This may sound like a headache, but what is the price of replenishing your bank account and the exposure of the confidential information of your best clients, who will never use your services again?

– Use pass phrases instead of passwords. Conduct this test on Passwordmonster.com:

  • Fluffy – takes 0.04 seconds to hack.
  • Fluffythecat – takes 95.57 seconds to hack.
  • Fluffy the cat (notice the spaces) – takes 15 days to hack.
  • I love Fluffy the cat – takes 5 THOUSAND YEARS to hack.

– Use different passwords for each account. Customize by changing the final word to match your account:

  • I love Fluffy the Amazon – 16 THOUSAND YEARS
  • I love Fluffy the Apple – 3 THOUSAND YEARS
  • Or leave off the last letter of the account and make hacking virtually impossible: I love Fluffy the Appl  (leave off the final “e”) – 279 MILLION YEARS

– Never save your credit card number or bank account number on a merchant site just to be more convenient.

ChatGPT and these other emerging platforms will make certain elements of life easier and more convenient. Just remember whatever makes life easier for you will make life easier for the hackers.

Either start providing stringent ongoing training for your in-house IT professional or engage the services of a professional.

You can’t afford not to.

Michael D. Moore is the founder and CEO of M3 Networks, an IT and cybersecurity firm located in Fort Worth and Southlake. He has well over 20 years of experience in the IT/cybersecurity field and has been an in-demand speaker as a subject matter expert on cybersecurity. He co-authored “Cyber Storm,” a book featuring cyber security experts from around the world.