The darker side of Artificial Intelligence

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By Kotie Geldenhuys 

In March 2019, criminals used Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven software to replicate the voice of a prominent executive within a corporation to illicitly obtain a sum of €220 000. The CEO of a UK-based organisation believed he was engaged in a legitimate telephone conversation with the leader of the company’s German branch. During this conversation, the impersonator skilfully simulated the identity of the CEO and urgently demanded the immediate transfer of €220 000 to a Hungarian supplier. This pressing request left the executive with no choice but to initiate the payment within the hour. This event marked a distinctive occurrence where AI played a decisive role in a cybercrime, a fact acknowledged by experts in the field of cybersecurity (Stupp, 2019).

In the last ten years, there has been a rapid embrace of Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions across a wide range of industries, spanning both the public and private sectors. Projections indicate that the worldwide AI market is poised to surpass $100 billion by 2025, with AI-powered systems expected to provide ongoing support to numerous sectors. These sectors include healthcare, education, commerce, banking, financial services, critical infrastructure, security, and many more. However, criminals and organised crime networks have swiftly integrated emerging technologies into their activities, resulting in continuous shifts within the worldwide criminal landscape. Consequently, this has presented significant challenges for law enforcement agencies and the broader cybersecurity sector. The Cybercrime-as-a-Service (CaaS) model (refer to the related article published from p26 in the November issue of Servamus) enables individuals with limited technical skills in the criminal realm to gain entry to digital underground markets, where they can procure technical resources and services. Consequently, this bolsters their capacity and sophistication when executing harmful actions. This pattern elevates the threat that emerging technologies, such as AI, can be manipulated by criminal elements, thereby exacerbating criminal endeavours (Ciancaglini, Gibson and Sancho, 2020).


[This is only an extract of an article that is published in Servamus: November 2023. This article is available for purchase.]

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