It’s easy to go for a doomsday mindset when discussing generative AI, especially if you work in cybersecurity or online fraud prevention. This Generative AI revolution has made possible new powerful tools you do not want to see in the wrong hands. And when you know it’s already in use in the wild among criminals, it’s easy to panic.
I’m not immune to the concern, which I think is real. At the same time, though, I think it’s important to consider a sensible perspective. Will the cycle of online crime speed up? Yes. Will it change the nature of the fight? I don’t think so. Let me explain.
Yes, Generative AI Comes With Risks
To be clear, the risks involved with generative AI are real. There’s a reason that Google, Microsoft, OpenAI and other significant innovators in this field were willing to voluntarily and proactively pledge caution rather than committing to innovation at all costs.
We can already see that generative AI can facilitate the fast creation of malicious software (even by people without software engineering expertise), help to spread malware, and scale up and simplify phishing campaigns (which have already become a real danger online) — particularly when combined with clever social engineering.
All of these developments represent dangers that can negatively impact both businesses and individuals. While most attacks will be blocked successfully, the traditional imbalance of crime fighting remains; criminals only need to succeed once in a flurry of attacks. To stay safe, good actors need to defend themselves every time.
Cybercrime: Faster and More Accessible
The criminal activity we’re seeing that uses generative AI isn’t new. What the AI adds is increased speed and scale. In the same way that it can be used to speed up repetitive or data-gathering tasks for knowledge workers, it can also help criminals skip manual steps by automating them. That means more attacks or malicious tools — and we’ll see new ones more often.
The other thing AI brings to the criminal table is increasing the trend toward democratizing illegal activities. Again, this isn’t new. We’ve seen this trend evolve in recent years through the specialization that has become dominant in the online criminal ecosystem and the sophisticated marketplace that exists online where bad actors can buy anything from filtered, stolen personal information to bots to guides and more. No criminal needs to possess all the skills necessary for a specific crime. Likely, there’s an app for some of it.
Generative AI contributes to and doubles down on this trend. Where before, building sophisticated malware might have been beyond your budget, now you can do it yourself, hand in hand with a variety of tools.
AI Also Enters the Hands of Fraud Fighters
I’m aware that until this point, the picture I’m painting is quite dark. It’s not the whole picture, though. While the threat is real, so is the power and creativity behind our defensive infrastructure — and that will also begin relying on generative AI.
Fraud prevention is always an arms race, with fraudsters trying to get around the defenses put in place against them and fraud fighters evolving new methods and technologies to block the fraudsters’ latest tricks.
The best defensive mechanism that we have against fraud is fraud fighters. Their intelligence, dedication, attention to detail and determination are best in figuring out what’s going on and finding the best solution to keep online fraud and its consequences from taking over.
Fraud Prevention: Also Evolving at Speed
Generative AI is a powerful tool in the hands of fraud fighters. In the same way that it empowers criminals to speed up, scale up, and take on new areas like code generation, it also allows the same for fraud prevention. That means that, while fraud techniques might be evolving more quickly, so too can fraud prevention techniques. I’ve already seen the impact of this firsthand at Forter.
That’s why I don’t see this as a frightening new era. It’s just the latest chapter in an ongoing story of attack and defense. Make no mistake — now that it’s out of the box, fraud fighters need generative AI. It’s exciting to experiment with how we can use it to protect businesses and customers online.