ChatGPT- a virus released into the wild?

ChatGPT, the AI-driven natural language processing tool, has quickly amassed a million users since its launch last November. It’s seen a wide variety of uses, from being prompted to create hip-hop lyrics and wedding speeches to writing computer code and crafting academic essays.

While its popularity only increases among individuals, the tool has put several industries on edge.

Copywriters are already being replaced or offered lesser pay, a New York school banned ChatGPT, and reports claim that Google issued a “code red” to ensure the survival of the company’s search business.

The cybersecurity industry also appears concerned about ChatGPT and its potential use by hackers with no technical knowledge or limited resources. The cybersecurity community has long been skeptical about the possible interference of modern AI.

Only a few weeks after ChatGPT debuted, Israeli cybersecurity company Check Point attested that the web-based chatbot, used in pair with OpenAI’s code-writing system Codex, could create a phishing email that can deliver a malicious payload.

CISA infographics show that many still don’t know what phishing is and how to prevent it.

Check Point Research (CPR) has since released the result of its analysis of several major underground hacking communities, warning of increased use of the chatbot by cybercriminals who prompt it to create malicious code.

CPR researchers say they found at least three instances where hackers with zero technical skills bragged about using ChatGPT’s AI smarts for malicious purposes.

One hacker made a post on a dark web forum showcasing how the code created by the chatbot allegedly steals, compresses, and sends the targeted files across the web. Another hacker posted a Python script, claiming it was the first script they ever created.

Although benign, the code could:

Easily be modified to encrypt someone’s machine completely without any user interaction.CPR

The code was posted by a forum user that previously sold access to stolen data and hacked company servers, says CPR.

Do the Experts Think We Should Be Worried?

The news of the chatbot being able to create malicious code saw mixed reactions across the industry. While some are upset by the news, some experts are keen on debunking concerns that an AI chatbot could create full-fledged cybercriminals out of “bottom feeders.”

An independent security researcher, The Grugq, mocked Check Point’s claims in a post on Mastodon by stating:

They have to register domains and maintain infrastructure. They need to update websites with new content and test that software which barely works continues to barely work on a slightly different platform.

The post further went on to say,

They need to monitor their infrastructure for health and check what’s happening in the news to make sure their campaign isn’t in an article about ‘top 5 most embarrassing phishing phails,’

Some believe that the code written by ChatGPT comes with a flaw. For example, F-Secure’s threat intelligence lead, Laura Kankaala, has said:

Defenders can use ChatGPT to generate code to simulate adversaries or even automate tasks to make work easier. It has already been used for a variety of impressive tasks, including personalized education, drafting newspaper articles, and writing computer code

Kankaala further went on to doubt the reliability of code generated by ChatGPT by stating:

However, it should be noted that it can be dangerous to fully trust the output of text and code generated by ChatGPT — the code it generates could have security issues or vulnerabilities. The text generated could also have outright factual errors

While most say you should be worried about ChatGPT, ESET’s Jake Moore believes that,

If ChatGPT learns enough from its input, it may soon be able to analyze potential attacks on the fly and create positive suggestions to enhance security.

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