Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quickly becoming a tool used by businesses, individuals and, sadly, cybercriminals. Generative AI can create believable scams and phishing emails at pace and in bulk.

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What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are designed to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as pattern recognition, visual perception, speech recognition and decision making. These systems are being used by many different industries for a variety of tasks.

'Generative AI' is type of AI that is capable of generating new content or completing tasks without significant guidance from humans. These types of AI systems can generate an output that simulates a range of content, from professional papers, to works of fiction and even genuine conversations.

Currently the most popular example of this is ChatGPT External Link

How are cybercriminals using AI?

  • Phishing – more realistic wording in multiple languages.
  • Investment scams – realistic investment advice.
  • Romance scams – communications sound like a real person, including online chat, and can include realistic images.

Generative AI tools can make far more realistic and error-free phishing scripts as well as descriptive content, while AI image generators can create a suite of photos of a particular person or a completely fictitious one.

This makes it easier for scammers to create the type of fake profiles used in romance or investment scams at speed and in bulk.

Tools like ChatGPT can also be used during live chats, making the scammers seem even more legitimate.

AI doesn’t just help edit English, it can work across various languages. This means speakers of regional languages, who may not usually encounter cyber crime, are now potential targets.

CERT NZ is aware of scams occurring in te reo Māori. It’s unclear if these were created using AI but the threat of that happening is increasing.

How to avoid AI-based scams

The good news is while the tools make it easier for scammers, their methodologies are essentially the same. For example, they can set up a completely AI-generated social media profile, but they still need you to do something such as provide information, take some action on your device, click on a suspicious link or send them money.

As always, be wary of who you're talking to online, take a second to check any links or details, and don’t share passwords, authentication codes or personal information.

It's a good idea to switch your social media profiles to private or ‘friends only’ which you can do in your account settings. When your profile is public, details can be taken and used in all sorts of ways, this includes being 'scraped' by AI tools.

Think about who you want to see your profile, and what kind of information you want them to see.

Cyber security and social media | CERT NZ External Link

AI Threat Reports

CERT NZ’s Insights and Intelligence team produces periodic threat reports to illustrate and identify notable trends in information we collect. This leads to highlighting threats and possible actions or interventions for consideration.

CERT NZ is in the process of creating a series of sharable threat reports on AI. We will list them here as they are published.

Report it

Help and advice is available from CERT NZ through our online reporting tool, or our contact centre. 0800 CERT NZ