AI-Powered Phishing: The New Normal and How to Stay Ahead
Attackers use advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms to draft more convincing phishing campaigns - making it increasingly difficult for individuals and organizations to detect or prevent against these.
According to cybertalk, more than 50% of IT decision makers say that phishing attacks have become a top security concern. Weaknesses in security policies, infrastructure, and processes enable phishing scams to reach end users and cause damage. When asked about the successful phishing attacks' impact, 60% of security leaders said that their organization lost data, 47% experienced ransomware, and 52% faced the credential compromise.
Therefore, it is essential for individuals and organizations to stay ahead of these threats by understanding how AI-powered phishing attacks work and taking proactive security measures to mitigate their risks. In this blog post, we'll cover the various methods attackers are utilizing AI for phishing attempts and provide practical tips on staying protected.
How is AI Used in Phishing?
AI-powered phishing has become increasingly common, posing a significant threat to both individuals and organizations alike. Here are some ways attackers are using AIs for phishing attacks:
AI for Sophisticated Phishing Emails
One primary use of AI in phishing is to generate convincing and personalized phishing emails at scale. Utilizing an AI tool, phishers can craft grammatically correct and highly convincing messages tailored specifically for each target, that deceive traditional security measures and trick people into sharing sensitive information.
Creating Infection Flows, Malware, and Ransomware
Hackers can also use AI language models to generate reverse engineer code, full infection flows, and create malware or ransomware on demand. This enables attackers to automate the process of creating and deploying malware, making it simpler to launch large-scale attacks.
Chatbots as Convincing Tools
In addition to creating phishing emails, AI-powered chatbots can communicate with victims in natural language, persuading them to take specific actions or provide sensitive information.
Analysts predict that future bots will use natural language just like sentient beings, making it even harder for victims to detect these attacks.
Last year, malicious actors employed AI bots such as SMSRanger and Blood TOPbot to conduct a credential harvesting attack that automatically followed up with victims to obtain their multi-factor authentication (MFA) codes.
Hyper-Realistic Synthetic Images and Video
Artificial intelligence is being employed to produce hyper-realistic synthetic images, audio, and video - also known as deep fakes. These can be used to impersonate people and trick targets into fraudulent activities, such as transferring large sums of money.
For instance, phishers cloned the voice of a bank director to convince employees at that institution to initiate transfers worth $35 million in funds. Gartner predicts that by 2023, deepfakes will be used as a part of technique for 20% of successful account takeover attacks.
Consequences of Falling Victim to AI-Powered Phishing
Being the victim of an AI-powered phishing attack can have serious consequences for individuals, organizations, and even entire industries. Here are some potential consequences to discuss:
Financial Losses: One of the most frequent outcomes of falling victim to phishing attacks is financial loss. Attackers can use stolen credentials or force victims into providing sensitive information that can be used for theft of funds or fraudulent transactions.
Data Breach: Phishing attacks can also lead to data breaches, where sensitive information such as personal data, financial records and intellectual property is stolen or exposed. This can cause severe reputational harm for organizations and individuals involved.
Malware Infections: Phishing attacks often involve tricking victims into downloading malware that can infect their devices and steal data or give the attacker control of the device. This can lead to further attacks and compromise the security of entire networks.
How to Stay Ahead of AI-Powered Phishing
Attackers have become advanced at using AI technology to craft convincing phishing emails that deceive traditional security measures and target unsuspecting victims. Legacy tools are no longer sufficient for protection against these attacks; the added line of defense is deploying AI anti-phishing weaponry and user training.
AI Anti-Phishing Weaponry: An Effective Solution
Anti-phishing tools utilizing AI technology can analyze various aspects of an email, including its content, context, metadata, and trusted behavior, to detect phishing attempts among many emails. These tools are trained to recognize legitimate email content and context, making it easier to identify suspicious emails that resemble those from trusted senders.
Comparing the sender's email address, the time and date the email was sent, and it's content to past emails from the same sender, these tools can identify whether the email is authentic or a phishing attempt. They can also detect whether the email contains identical headers, bank account numbers, and customer IDs to past emails from the same sender.
The ability of AI anti-phishing tools to analyze various elements of an email and detect patterns helps organizations to quickly identify and respond to phishing attempts, minimizing the risk of falling victim to these types of attacks. Organizations must use these tools to enhance their cybersecurity and protect their sensitive information from cybercriminals using phishing tactics.
Don't Forget User Training
While AI anti-phishing tools are essential in combating AI-empowered phishing attacks, user education remains important as well. Users remain the last line of defense when it comes to these sophisticated and high volumes of AI generated phishing emails. Organizations must educate their employees on the most up-to-date phishing tactics - including AI generated ones!
They should use tools like ChatGPT to test users with pre-generated emails and reinforce the message that anyone can create convincing phishing emails. Employers should be taught how to check for fraudulent emails via other avenues and then report suspicious emails swiftly and quickly and easily.
The rise of AI-enabled phishing attacks marks a new era in cyberattacks. Organizations must prepare for this new AI world by deploying anti-phishing weapons and providing ongoing user training.
As AI technology continues to develop, organizations must remain alert and prepare for the newest wave of AI-enabled attacks. Utilizing anti-phishing tools powered by AI technology combined with properly trained users, organizations can effectively combat this growing danger from AI-empowered phishing attempts.
Semnet’s AI Automated phishing simulations along with interactive cybersecurity learning can help you protect your organization from these threats. With our cutting-edge technology and expert user training, you can effectively combat the latest wave of cyber threats. Contact us today to learn more.