Cybercriminals are using ChatGPT to employ more and more sophisticated and complex cyber crimes. Starting this week, I am planning to write few articles on how various Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools are helping cybercriminals, starting with ChatGPT. ChatGPT is an AI-powered chatbot developed by artificial intelligence research company OpenAI. A chatbot is a computer software program which uses a field of machine learning called natural language processing (NLP) to generate responses to user questions and prompts. The GPT stands for “Generative Pre-trained Transformer,” which refers to how ChatGPT processes requests and formulates responses.
ChatGPT or applications developed using it can create essays, stories, code, images, movies, convert text to voice, impersonate people etc. Alternatives or competitors to ChatGPT include Bard by google, Bing AI by Microsoft, and ChatSonic. According to Incredibletools.com, ChatGPT acquired 1 million users just 5 days after launching in November 2022 and now it has more than 100 million users.
Though there are lots of positives and economic benefits of using ChatGPT kind of AI tools, there are lot of new cybersecurity risks that are also introduced by this advanced user friendly technology. Elon Musk, who was the co-founder of OpenAI, had told attendees at the World Government Summit in Dubai – “One of the biggest risks to the future of civilization is AI” to which Sam Altman, who is the CEO and other co-founder agreed that AI can possess huge cybersecurity risk.
Cybercriminals have also started using ChatGPT for writing malware programs, phishing, creating deep fakes, extortion, creating sophisticated misinformation and there by riots or clashes in society. Thereby ChatGPT is bringing in reach, technology and sophistication which was beyond common petty cybercriminals and helping them in committing sophisticated cybercrimes.
How Cybercriminals are using ChatGPT to commit cybercrimes :-
- Cybercriminals are using ChatGPT to write emails and messages that are not only grammatically correct but are credibly convincing, thereby increasing chances of victims falling for it and steal their data.
- ChatGPT can be easily abused to create polymorphic malware program that is highly evasive as well as difficult to detect for the signature based antivirus programs and steal people’s data.
- Now cybercriminals with limited technical experience can use advanced AI to build core elements of ransomware-type programs and extort companies and people. check out my article on ransomware.
- ChatGPT could be used by cybercriminal to assist in the creation of lookalike websites and bots that deceive users into providing their information. check out my article on Impersonation and Identity theft.
- An AI like ChatGPT designed to mimic humans can produce an infinite supply of hateful content varying slightly and post it on many social platforms thereby inciting riots through misinformation.
How to protect oneself against such crimes:-
- Always follow the principle of ‘ Zero Trust, Pause and Authenticate’ for all digital transactions and news.
- Use a good antivirus software and keep it updated always, also update all the software regularly on your device.
- Never click on any hyperlink or scan a QR code in messages or emails from strangers or in doubt.
- Never share your personal and financially sensitive information like aadhaar or PAN number or bank or credit/debit card details with strangers.
- Use a separate bank account with small balance for all your digital transactions via UPI so that in case of fraud amount lost is minimal.
- Keep checking regularly your bank statements, CIBIL score and transaction statement, aadhaar authentication history and AIS statement on incometax website for any unauthorised or unusual transactions.
- Use strong passwords and keep changing it often. My suggestion is use a sentence with number in your native language which is easier to remember.
If you have been scammed :-
Immediately call 1930 cyber helpline number or file a complaint at cybercrime.gov.in. Call the concerned bank and lodge a complaint to freeze the funds. If you have shared Aadhaar with someone, lock your Aadhaar card at uidai.gov.in. Change passwords/pins of exposed banking accounts. If you have a doubt of malware/virus attack after scanning the QR code, format or factory reset the device.
Legal remedies available to the victim in India :-
One can register a criminal case in cyber police station under
- section 419 (punishment for cheating by impersonation) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of Indian Penal Code(IPC).
- section 43 (Penalty and compensation for damage to computer, computer system, etc), section 66 (punishment for computer related offences – a person committing data theft, transmitting virus into a system, destroying data, hacking, or denying access to the computer or network to an authorized person is imprisoned for a maximum of 3 years or a fine of 5 lakh rupees or both), section 66C(which prescribes penalties for identity theft and states that anyone who fraudulently or dishonestly uses a person’s identity information will be subject to imprisonment up to 3 years and a fine of up to 3 lakh rupees) and Section 66D (punishment for fraud by impersonation using computer resources) under of the Information Technology Act(IT) Act 2000.
Frequently Asked Questions :-
Is it safe to share personal information with ChatGPT?
Is ChatGPT monitored?
Is ChatGPT safe to use?
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