ChatGPT, the chatbot technology launched by OpenAI late last year to much fanfare for its ability to create highly realistic narratives, may also end up delivering advantages to hackers who need to upgrade their phishing email pitches, according to new research released by BlackBerry.

According to the research, about half of 1,500 IT professionals surveyed are concerned that ChatGPT will be used by bad actors over the next year as part of a cyberattack.  And more than two thirds of those surveyed – 71 percent – figure that nation-state actors are already using the technology for “malicious” purposes.

At the same time, 74 percent of those surveyed also see the chatbot technology being used for “good purposes.”

“ChatGPT will increase its influence in the cyber industry over time,” said Shishir Singh, chief technology officer for cybersecurity at BlackBerry. “We’ve all seen a lot of hype and scaremongering, but the pulse of the industry remains fairly pragmatic – and for good reason,” Singh said.

Of those concerned with ChatGPT’s usefulness to hackers, most envision that it can become a tool to “craft more believable and legitimate sounding phishing emails,” BlackBerry said.

Other concerns major concerns include respondents believing that the tool will “[enable] less experienced hackers to improve their technical knowledge and develop more specialized skills,” as well as help spread misinformation.

Due to the rise and prevalence of AI tools in the IT market, 82 percent of respondents said their organizations will be investing in “AI-driven cybersecurity in the next two years.”

And nearly all respondents – 95 percent – think there is room for some kind of regulation to keep the technology being used by cyber criminals.

“It’s been well documented that people with malicious intent are testing the waters but, over the course of this year, we expect to see hackers get a much better handle on how to use ChatGPT successfully for nefarious purposes,” Singh said.

“Both cyber pros and hackers will continue to look into how they can utilize it best,” Singh said. “Time will tell how who’s more effective.”

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