Hype vs. Reality: Are Generative AI and Large Language Models the Next Cyberthreat?

Generative AI and large language models (LLMs) have the potential to be used as tools for cybersecurity attacks, but they are not necessarily a new cybersecurity threat in themselves. Let’s have a look at the hype vs. the reality.

The use of generative AI and LLMs in cybersecurity attacks is not new. Malicious actors have long used technology to create convincing scams and attacks. The increasing sophistication of AI and machine learning algorithms only adds another layer of scale and complexity to the threat landscape, which should be met with both common and innovative protection measures to maintain organizations’ security posture.

Generative AI and LLMs can have a significant impact on the scale of cybersecurity threats, both in terms of the number of attacks and their complexity. On one hand, these technologies can make it easier and faster for attackers to create convincing fake content. This could lead to an increase in the overall volume of attacks, as attackers are able to generate larger quantities of fraudulent content more quickly and easily.

Additionally, LLMs can be used to generate highly-targeted and personalized messages, which could make it more difficult for people to recognize them as fraudulent. For example, an attacker could use an LLM to generate a phishing email that appears to come from a friend or colleague, using their writing style and language to make the email seem more authentic. They could also be used to generate realistic-looking password guesses, in order to bypass authentication systems. Generative AI and LLMs can give attackers an advantage in certain situations. These tools can automate the process of creating convincing fake content, making it easier and faster for attackers to generate large quantities of phishing emails and other types of misleading content.

To mitigate the potential threats posed by generative AI and LLMs, organizations can take immediate steps, such as:

  1. Multi-factor authentication-Implementing multi-factor authentication systems can help to prevent attacks that use AI technology to guess or crack passwords. By requiring additional verification steps, such as a biometric scan or a one-time password, organizations can make it more difficult for attackers to gain access to sensitive data or systems.
  2. Employee training-Providing training to employees on the increasing threat of highly targeted and personalized phishing attacks as a result of generative AI. This can include training on how to identify and respond to phishing emails or suspicious behavior on the network.
  3. Email filtering-Email filtering systems can provide an effective defense against phishing attacks that leverage AI technology. These systems can analyze large volumes of email traffic and quickly identify and block suspicious emails, helping to prevent users from falling victim to these types of attacks.
  4. Hyperautomation-This new security automation approach is effective for countering the scale of attacks generated by AI, by providing organizations with comprehensively-integrated capabilities needed to quickly detect and respond to threats. In addition, it can help to reduce the workload on security teams by hyperautomating routine tasks such as incident triage and response. This can help to free up time and resources to handle more complex threats, such as those involving generative AI and LLMs.

The use of generative AI and LLMs is not limited to attackers. These tools can also be used by defenders to develop more effective security measures and detect potential threats. For example, security researchers can use LLMs to analyze large volumes of data and identify patterns that could indicate the presence of a cybersecurity threat. Some possible future applications of LLMs in cybersecurity protection can be developed to augment the existing tech stack, and help protect against a wide range of new and more sophisticated cyber threats:

  1. Phishing Detection-LLMs can be trained to recognize and flag suspicious emails that may be part of a phishing attack. By analyzing the text of an email, an LLM can identify patterns or keywords that are commonly used in phishing attempts and alert users or security teams to the potential threat.
  2. Malware Detection-LLMs can be used to analyze large volumes of code and identify patterns that are associated with malware or other types of cyber attacks. An LLM can identify keywords or phrases that are commonly used in malicious code and help to flag potential threats.
  3. Threat Intelligence Analysis-LLMs can be used to analyze and categorize large volumes of threat intelligence data, such as security logs or incident reports, to identify patterns and trends in the data and help that indicate potential threats or vulnerabilities in the system.
  4. Hyperautomation-By integrating AI-based threat detection capabilities into a hyperautomation platform, organizations can enhance their ability to quickly respond to attacks. For example, machine learning algorithms could analyze network traffic and identify patterns that indicate the presence of a threat. This would automatically trigger a response, such as blocking the malicious traffic or quarantining an infected device.

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