ChatGPT and the new AI are wreaking havoc on cybersecurity in exciting and scary ways

Generative AI is transforming cybersecurity, helping both attackers and defenders. Cybercriminals are leveraging artificial intelligence to launch innovative and sophisticated attacks at scale. And defenders are using the same technology to protect critical infrastructure, government organizations and corporate networks, said Christopher Ahlberg, CEO of threat intelligence platform Recorded Future.

Generative AI has helped bad actors innovate and develop new attack strategies, allowing them to stay one step ahead of cybersecurity defenses. AI helps cybercriminals automate attacks, scan attack surfaces, and generate content that resonates with various geographies and demographics, enabling them to target a wider range of potential victims across different countries. Cybercriminals have adopted the technology to create convincing phishing emails. AI-generated text helps attackers produce highly personalized emails and text messages that are more likely to fool targets.

“I think you don’t have to think very creatively to realize that, man, this can really help [cybercriminals] being authors, which is a problem,” Ahlberg said.

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Defenders use AI to fend off attacks. Organizations are using technology to prevent leaks and proactively find network vulnerabilities. It also dynamically automates tasks like setting alerts for specific keywords and tracking sensitive information online. Threat hunters use AI to identify unusual patterns and summarize large amounts of data, connecting the dots across multiple sources of information and hidden patterns.

The job still requires human experts, but Ahlberg says the generative AI technology we’re seeing in projects like ChatGPT can help.

“We want to speed up the analysis cycle [to] help us analyze at the speed of thought,” he said. “It’s a very difficult thing to do and I think we’re seeing a breakthrough here, which is pretty exciting.”

Ahlberg also discussed the potential threats that highly intelligent machines could bring. As the world becomes increasingly digital and interconnected, the ability to bend reality and shape perceptions could be exploited by bad actors. These threats are not limited to nation-states, making the landscape even more complex and lopsided.

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AI has the potential to help protect against these emerging threats, but it also comes with its own set of risks. For example, machines with high processing capabilities could hack systems faster and more effectively than humans. To counter these threats, we need to ensure that AI is used defensively and with a clear understanding of who is in control.

As AI becomes more integrated into society, it is important for lawmakers, judges and other decision makers to understand the technology and its implications. Building strong alliances between technical experts and policy makers will be key to navigating the future of AI in threat hunting and beyond.

The opportunities, challenges, and ethical considerations of AI in cybersecurity are complex and ever-changing. Ensuring unbiased AI models and maintaining human involvement in decision making will help address ethical challenges. Vigilance, collaboration and a clear understanding of the technology will be key to addressing the potential long-term threats of highly intelligent machines.

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Ahlberg also expressed concern about China, Russia and economic adversaries deploying autonomous cars. These countries will likely not slow down the development of AI or share ethical considerations. While having the ability to “unplug” such machines is a smart safeguard, he suggests that the technology’s integration into society and the global economy will likely make unplugging difficult. Ahlberg emphasizes the need to design products and machines with clarity about who controls them.

“The big thing that the Internet has done in all of this is that the Internet has become where all the information in the world has migrated to,” said Ahlberg. “These big language models are doing some pretty magical things to speed up that thought cycle.”

He added: “In the next 25 years, the world will become a reflection of the Internet.”

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