MIT Sloan Management Review Article on From ChatGPT to HackGPT: Meeting the Cybersecurity Threat of Generative AI

  • 5m
  • George Westerman, Karen Renaud, Merrill Warkentin
  • MIT Sloan Management Review
  • 2023

For the past several years, cybercriminals have been using artificial intelligence to hack into corporate systems and disrupt business operations. But powerful new generative AI tools such as ChatGPT present business leaders with a new set of challenges.

Consider these entirely plausible scenarios:

  • A hacker uses ChatGPT to generate a personalized spear-phishing message based on your company’s marketing materials and phishing messages that have been successful in the past. It succeeds in fooling people who have been well trained in email awareness, because it doesn’t look like the messages they’ve been trained to detect.
  • An AI bot calls an accounts payable employee and speaks using a (deepfake) voice that sounds like the boss’s. After exchanging some pleasantries, the “boss” asks the employee to transfer thousands of dollars to an account to “pay an invoice.” The employee knows they shouldn’t do this, but the boss is allowed to ask for exceptions, aren’t they?
  • Hackers use AI to realistically “poison” the information in a system, creating a valuable stock portfolio that they can cash out before the deceit is discovered.
  • In a very convincing fake email exchange created using generative AI, a company’s top executives appear to be discussing how to cover up a financial shortfall. The “leaked” message spreads wildly with the help of an army of social media bots, leading to a plunge in the company’s stock price and permanent reputational damage.

About the Author

Karen Renaud is a computing scientist at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, working on all aspects of human-centered security and privacy. Merrill Warkentin, an ACM Distinguished Scientist, is a W.L. Giles Distinguished Professor and the Rouse Endowed Professor of Information Systems in the College of Business at Mississippi State University. George Westerman is a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and founder of the Global Opportunity Initiative in MIT’s Office of Open Learning. The authors are listed here in alphabetical order; all authors contributed equally to this article.

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  • MIT Sloan Management Review Article on From ChatGPT to HackGPT—Meeting the Cybersecurity Threat of Generative AI