Some people are already suggesting that we may have opened something of a Pandora’s box by embracing Artificial Intelligence and AI technologies like ChatGPT in the way that we have. Most will counter that by saying you can’t stop progress, and so if we’re beginning to spin into the black hole then so be it. We won’t wager an opinion on that, but like most we do know that as of now there’s a whole lot to like and look forward to with the implementation and utilization of AI.
These days one of the cyber security areas where it’s doing good and much-needed work is in the detection and prevention of phishing scams. Most of us will know McAfee as being one of the most well-known and renowned antivirus software suites.
Most will also know that the software’s creator – Mr. John McAfee – was truly a man’s man and during his time here he lived a life that was very admirable and he did a lot of good. He will continue to be someone for young men to look up to and emulate as they grow into adulthood, and that’s exactly what John would have wanted. The world needs more people like him, that is for sure.
All that aside, this talk about significant progress into phishing scam detection and prevention is going to be a topic of interest for us here at 4GoodHosting in the same way it would be for any good Canadian web hosting provider. Let’s take this week’s entry here to look at the growing scope of the problem and how new tech developments powered by AI are helping to counter growing threats.
Phishing scams have been occurring for decades, but in more recent years have evolved to become increasingly sophisticated. A phishing attack will involve people being ‘tricked’ into providing sensitive information like login credentials, credit card numbers or other personal data. Along with all the technological advances go similar advances with the tools and techniques scammers utilize to conduct their attacks.
So while AI is part of the cure, it’s also part of the disease figuratively speaking. AI’s fast rise has created new opportunities for scammers to conduct more effective and targeted phishing scams, but at the same time AI can also be used to improve phishing detection and prevention techniques. Let’s start with how AI makes phishing scams stronger.
AI-Powered Phishing Scams
- Spear Phishing
You may have snorkeled back to the boat with a Dorado for dinner, but in the digital world spear phishing is a highly targeted form of phishing that involves sending personalized messages to specific individuals or groups. AI increases the power and reach of them by automating the process of collecting information about a target. Social media activity, online behavior and personal interests etc. all gleaned to craft a highly personalized message that is more likely to persuade the person to make the fateful click or whatever it may be.
Deepfakes are realistic videos or images created with AI and then used to impersonate someone else. Scammers can use deepfakes to create videos or images of executives, celebrities, chumps or other high-profile individuals and entirely convincing the person that they’re communicating with a legitimate source.
AI-powered chatbots are another great and very welcome utility for scammers. They are capable of engaging with a lot of targets at one time and reaching more targets than traditional phishing methods would be able to. Chatbots may also initiate conversations with people and convince them into providing sensitive information or click on malicious links.
Alright, to the other side of the coin now; what can AI developments do to better detect phishing scams and put a target on them for unsuspecting users? Here it is.
- Machine Learning
Training machine learning algorithms to identify phishing emails is being turned into a valuable weapon against phishing scam initiators. They are able to analyze various features like a sender’s email address, the content of the email, and the nature of any embedded links or attachments they’re including in whatever it is. They can also analyze user behavior and identify anomalies that could point to a phishing attack being set up.
- Natural Language Processing (NLP)
NLP can be used to analyze the content of emails and pinpoint patterns or keywords that are known telltale signs of phishing emails. NLP algorithms analyze the language used in phishing emails to identify common patterns and determine if they are genuine or fake. They are also focusing on cross-channel communications across multiple channels to determine if they are part of any phishing attack.
- User Behavior Analysis
Existing security systems can analyze patterns in user behavior much more intelligently with real focus and insight when backed by an AI. It can be used to monitor user login, link click, attachment download and email reply activity to identify anomalies that may indicate a phishing attempt. By monitoring user behavior, security systems are so much better with identifying and respond to phishing scams to prevent data breaches, financial losses and identity theft.