Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI) has changed not just the way tasks are done but also the way we think about solutions. The computing power that these technologies represent is far beyond what was available to the public beforehand. GAI’s ability to find patterns and produce nuanced responses has the potential to move society forward on a dramatically increased trajectory.
Unfortunately, these same capabilities, in the hands of bad actors, can cause great harm. This can be seen by the increasing sophistication of cyberattacks and the resultant need for improved cybersecurity.
Common Cybersecurity Threats
Malicious apps, DDoS attacks, and brute-force attacks are still threats in the current environment, but the biggest threat remains the same: phishing. No security system has been created yet that can consistently defeat data breaches that are caused by employees sharing confidential information.
One of the main ways that bad actors collect this information is through phishing emails, or business email compromise (BEC). Many employees have been trained to recognize the patterns of these emails, and increasingly sophisticated email scanning features have rerouted many of these emails to spam folders. However, GAI has breathed new life into this practice, ensuring it will continue to be a threat to business data security.
New Generative AI Security Risks
The sheer amount of data that can easily be processed, manipulated, and evaluated by GAI presents huge challenges for cybersecurity. In many cases, these challenges are more advanced versions of those that have been dealt with for years. In other cases, the threats presented are unique. Some of these threats include:
1. The Open Source Nature of Many Generative AI Solutions
Open source software prevents any single company from establishing monopolistic control over new technologies. That way, everyone has access. Unfortunately, that includes bad actors, who can use open source code to create and distribute programs intended to steal data.
2. The Emergence of Phishing-as-a-Service
Some bad actors are now offering phishing-as-a-service, which can be used out of the box by almost anyone. This dramatically decreases the barrier to entry for data thieves. Instead of requiring in-depth knowledge of computer systems, phishers now only need to purchase one of these services.
3. Increased Customization of Phishing Emails
Generative AI makes it much easier to add customized details to phishing emails, thereby signaling to recipients that the sender is a real person with good intentions. However, malicious links included in these emails can lead to adversary-in-the-middle attacks that defeat even two-factor authentication measures.
4. The Ability to Create Higher-Quality Phishing Emails
Currently, many phishing emails are obvious to most people due to a lack of grammar, spelling, or design sophistication. However, GAI allows scammers to feed in a legitimate message and receive back a similar message that contains no grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. In addition, AI can be used to create convincing graphics to attach. In all, these lead to more professional-looking emails that make it more difficult for the average end user to identify.
What Can Be Done in Response to Generative AI Security Risks?
These threats cannot be ignored, and the technology is moving so quickly that kicking the can down the road on cybersecurity is no longer an option. Every business, regardless of size, needs a robust cybersecurity plan.
Large companies that already have information security in place are ahead of many smaller companies, but that doesn’t mean that they’re fully prepared. These threats probably cannot be resolved by a single person at a large company. It’s important to allocate funds to improve cybersecurity and to make it a central tenet of the company. A single breach can cost millions of dollars and irreparable damage to a company’s reputation.
Smaller companies, particularly small businesses, typically do not have the budget to hire a full-time cybersecurity expert, but they still need to prepare for attacks. It may be possible to hire a fractional CISO or outsource their security to provide some coverage against cyberattacks and data breaches. However, the most cost-effective solution may be to centralize sensitive data with a service provider that offers exceptional safety and security.
By using one of these services, companies reduce the need to maintain as much on-site security as they would otherwise, and they can take advantage of the economies of scale that allow these providers to offer cutting-edge security solutions, regardless of size. Companies that deal with particularly sensitive data, such as those in health, legal, or finance, will find service providers that cater to the specific needs of the industry.
Corporate, outsourced, and centralized data can dramatically reduce data breaches, but there is one other element that needs to be considered: people. All of these security measures can be undermined by an employee who responds to a phishing email. Therefore, it’s vitally important to put in place a robust filtering system for email while also educating employees on how to spot these scams and who they should contact if they’re suspicious of a message they’ve received.
Neither the security aspect nor the employee education aspect is enough on its own. Companies must invest in both their infrastructure and their training to safeguard information. As scammers use GAI to perfect their methods, it becomes even more important for every company, big or small, to invest time, energy, and money into shoring up their cybersecurity measures.
New cybersecurity threats are just one of the reasons we’re taking our time incorporating GenAI into our product line. We believe it’s more important to deploy this technology the right way than to be first to the market. To learn more about Casepoint’s approach to GenAI, view our official statement here.