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AI criminals

ChatGPT's ability to draft realistic texts makes it tool for scammers & cyber crime - Europol

EUROPOL, the EU’s law enforcement agency, has carried out a report looking at the threat posed by the new Artificial Intelligence website.

EUROPEAN POLICING EXPERTS have released a report warning of the threat of criminal activity on the ChatGPT platform. 

EUROPOL, the EU’s law enforcement agency, has carried out a report looking at the threat posed by the new Artificial Intelligence website.

The study identified three areas in which ChatGPT can be used to commit crime – fraud, cyber and disinformation. 

The research was carried out by the Europol Innovation Lab and has been disseminated to police forces, including An Garda Síochána, to prepare for the growth in the use of the technology by crime groups. 

The study focused on so-called large language models (LLMs) which is the form of artificial intelligence ChatGPT falls under. 

A large language model is a type of AI system that can process, manipulate, and generate text.

Training an LLM involves feeding it large amounts of data, such as books, articles and websites, so that it can learn the patterns and connections between words to generate new content.

It chose ChatGPT because it is the highest-profile and most commonly used LLM available to the public.

The Europol study war-gamed the potential way the software can be used by criminals. 

“The aim of this report is to raise awareness about the potential misuse of LLMs, to open a dialogue with Artificial Intelligence (AI) companies to help them build in better safeguards, and to promote the development of safe and trustworthy AI systems,” a Europol statement said.

The current publicly accessible model underlying ChatGPT is capable of processing and generating human-like text in response to user prompts. Specifically, the model can answer questions on a variety of topics, translate text, engage in conversational exchanges (‘chatting’), generate new content, and produce functional code. 

The report authors looked at the so-called dark side of the LLMs as they are actively being improved. 

Europol said that “the potential exploitation of these types of AI systems by criminals provide a grim outlook”.

The police agency report said that the three categories of fraud and social engineering; disinformation and cyber crime have been identified as “areas of concern”. 

The report found that ChatGPT’s ability to draft highly realistic text makes it a useful tool for scammers.

It also said that the LLMs can be used to mimmick language patterns and style of speech.

“This capability can be abused at scale to mislead potential victims into placing their trust in the hands of criminal actors,” the report found. 

In disinformation it said that ChatGPT excels at producing authentic sounding text at speed and scale.

“This makes the model ideal for propaganda and disinformation purposes, as it allows users to generate and spread messages reflecting a specific narrative with relatively little effort,” it read. 

In the cybercrime sphere the ChatGPT application has the potential to also create tools for criminals.

“In addition to generating human-like language, ChatGPT is capable of producing code in a number of different programming languages. For a potential criminal with little technical knowledge, this is an invaluable resource to produce malicious code.

“As technology progresses, and new models become available, it will become increasingly important for law enforcement to stay at the forefront of these developments to anticipate and prevent abuse,” Europol added.

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