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Mandiant’s blog post sheds light on the rising use of AI by threat actors for social engineering and disinformation campaigns, signaling a significant evolution in cyber threat tactics.

  • Mandiant’s analysis exposes an escalating interest among threat actors in the realm of generative AI.
  • Primarily, threat actors have channeled AI’s capabilities towards the domains of social engineering and disinformation campaigns.
  • Mandiant foresees a transformative potential where AI could profoundly enhance malicious operations in the cybersecurity landscape.

American cybersecurity firm Mandiant recently unveiled a striking transformation within the threat landscape. In their blog post, they expose a surge in interest among threat actors in the remarkable capabilities of generative AI. This finding, monitored closely by Mandiant since as early as 2019, demands immediate attention.

The intrigue surrounding AI among threat actors has materialized in a distinct and deliberate fashion. Rather than directing their focus toward traditional intrusion operations, threat actors have strategically harnessed the power of AI for activities that include social engineering and disinformation campaigns. These campaigns are now significantly fortified with AI-generated content, with a particular emphasis on the creation of images and videos.

The implications of this strategic pivot are profound. Mandiant’s findings serve as a harbinger of AI’s transformative potential, which could reshape the landscape of malicious operations within the cybersecurity realm. While the tangible adoption of AI-driven tactics remains somewhat limited in practice, the evident shift toward these capabilities underscores the imperative for continuous vigilance and adaptability in navigating the dynamically evolving cybersecurity terrain.

How threat actors use AI

The deployment of AI by threat actors represents a paradigm shift in their modus operandi. Here’s a closer look at how they have been utilizing generative AI:

  • Social Engineering with AI: Threat actors have recognized the potency of AI in crafting tailored narratives and personas. AI-generated content is used to create convincing profiles, complete with realistic images and background stories. These fabricated identities can be leveraged in targeted social engineering campaigns, where unsuspecting individuals are more likely to fall victim to persuasive and believable interactions.
  • Disinformation Campaigns: AI-generated content, particularly in the form of images and videos, has become a linchpin in disinformation campaigns. Threat actors can create hyper-realistic media, making it increasingly challenging for audiences to distinguish between genuine and fabricated content. This blurring of reality can have far-reaching consequences, sowing discord, and chaos in various contexts, from politics to public opinion.
  • AI-Aided Reconnaissance: Beyond the visible content, threat actors employ AI-driven reconnaissance tools to scour vast amounts of open-source and stolen data efficiently. This enhanced data processing capability enables threat actors to streamline their operations, identify patterns, and fine-tune their social engineering strategies.

Mandiant’s findings illuminate the latent potential of AI to exert a transformative influence on malicious operations. While the adoption of AI remains limited in practice, the strategic pivot towards AI-powered tactics underscores the need for continuous vigilance and adaptation within the ever-evolving cybersecurity arena.

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