This Year’s Holiday Scams Have a New AI Twist

( – It was only a matter of time.

With the holidays come apparently not only cheer and goodwill to all men, but also a sharp rise in online scams. And if that’s not enough, many of these scams are aided to some extent by AI technology.

Shoppers have spent a whopping collective $270 billion worth of shopping online so far, and the National Retail Federal expects consumers to fork out a total of anywhere between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion this year.

Naturally, online scam artists want their piece of the pie, and they’re not shy in using AI technology to help advance their nefarious aims. Barracuda Networks, an online security company, released a report indicating that spear-phishing attacks during the holidays, especially during the week before Christmas, can catapult by as much as 150%.

SlashNext, another cybersecurity firm, says that there has been a walloping 1,265% spike in malicious phishing emails since the fourth quarter of 2022. Incidents of credential phishing, on the other hand, ballooned by 967%. On average, around 31,000 phishing attacks are sent out by cybercriminals daily, research from the firm indicated.

Generative AI like Chat GPT can be used to generate regular but more believable phishing scams – using ChatGPT, for example, allows non-English speakers to generate messages devoid of spelling and grammatical mistakes seen in many phishing scams, as well as lending it a professional-looking air. In fact, someone has created what could be called ChatGPT’s evil twin – FraudGPT.

Other scams make use of language learning models, which incorporates real-time information from news outlets and websites incorporating these details into phishing messages that seek donations and the like.

According to security experts, the use of AI allows cybercriminals to create content that contains “much more relevant reference to things that are very personal” to phishing scams’ intended victims, according to David Raissipour, who serves as Mimecast’s chief technology and product officer.

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