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Can Mimicking be Dangerous? Hackers Using Artificial Intelligence to Impersonate CEOs’ Voices

Today, there are already programmes that, after listening 20 minutes to a particular voice, speak in the voice everything that the user types

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Over the last 12 months, Microsoft has delivered nearly 1,400 nation-state notifications to those who have been targeted or compromised by STRONTIUM. Pixabay

In a warning, an Israeli cyber body has unearthed a new type of attack where hackers are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to impersonate senior company executives. The main innovation is the attacking software, which learns to mimic the voice of a person defined for it and makes a conversation with an employee on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

The most common types are phishing messages and an invoicing fraud in which the attacker impersonates the vendor, submits an invoice to the company and tries to motivate an employee under time pressure to make a bank transfer, provide information or allow access to the company’s network, informed the Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD).

In this method, instructions are given to the companies staff members to perform transactions such as money transfers, as well as malicious activity on the company’s network. Reports on cyber attacks of this kind were received at the operations centre of the INCD, reports Xinhua.

hackers, AI
In this method, instructions are given to the companies staff members to perform transactions such as money transfers, as well as malicious activity on the company’s network. Pixabay

The new offensive is of the business email compromise (BEC) type — frauds by email against commercial and government organizations to motivate employees using social engineering methods to act for the attacker’s benefit.

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The method of attack escalates and includes the use of the AI-based software, which makes voice phishing calls to senior executives. Today, there are already programmes that, after listening 20 minutes to a particular voice, speak in the voice everything that the user types. According to the INCD, for an organization that falls prey to such fraud, economic damage may be high.

In its announcement, the INCD also issued suggestions for taking precautions and raising awareness among organizations — such as training employees, paying attention to deviations in organizational processes, verifying instructions and using technological means to prevent misuse of email. (IANS)

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This AI System Can Evade Censorship In India, China and Kazakhstan

Researchers develop an AI tool that evades censorship in India, China and Kazakhstan

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(AI)-based system automatically learns to evade censorship in India, China and Kazakhstan. Pixabay

Researchers have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based system that automatically learns to evade censorship in India, China and Kazakhstan.

The tool, called Geneva (short for Genetic Evasion), found dozens of ways to circumvent censorship by exploiting gaps in censors’ logic and finding bugs that the researchers said would have been virtually impossible for humans to find manually.

The researchers are scheduled to introduce Geneva during a peer-reviewed talk at the Association for Computing Machinery’s 26th Conference on Computer and Communications Security in London on Thursday.

“With Geneva, we are, for the first time, at a major advantage in the censorship arms race,” said Dave Levin, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Maryland in the US and senior author of the paper.

“Geneva represents the first step toward a whole new arms race in which artificial intelligence systems of censors and evaders compete with one another. Ultimately, winning this race means bringing free speech and open communication to millions of users around the world who currently don’t have them,” Levin said.\

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This AI system that evades censorship is called ‘Geneva’. Pixabay

To demonstrate that Geneva worked in the real world against undiscovered censorship strategies, the team ran Geneva on a computer in China with an unmodified Google Chrome browser installed.

By deploying strategies identified by Geneva, the user was able to browse free of keyword censorship.

The researchers also successfully evaded censorship in India, which blocks forbidden URLs, and Kazakhstan, which was eavesdropping on certain social media sites at the time, said a statement from the University of Maryland.

All information on the Internet is broken into data packets by the sender’s computer and reassembled by the receiving computer.

One prevalent form of Internet censorship works by monitoring the data packets sent during an Internet search.

The censor blocks requests that either contain flagged keywords (such as “Tiananmen Square” in China) or prohibited domain names (such as “Wikipedia” in many countries).

When Geneva is running on a computer that is sending out web requests through a censor, it modifies how data is broken up and sent, so that the censor does not recognise forbidden content or is unable to censor the connection.

Known as a genetic algorithm, Geneva is a biologically inspired type of AI that Levin and his team developed to work in the background as a user browses the web from a standard Internet browser.

Like biological systems, Geneva forms sets of instructions from genetic building blocks. But rather than using DNA as building blocks, Geneva uses small pieces of code.

Censorship
By deploying strategies identified by Geneva, the user is able to browse free of keyword censorship. Pixabay

Individually, the bits of code do very little, but when composed into instructions, they can perform sophisticated evasion strategies for breaking up, arranging or sending data packets.

The tool evolves its genetic code through successive attempts (or generations). With each generation, Geneva keeps the instructions that work best at evading censorship and kicks out the rest.

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Geneva mutates and cross breeds its strategies by randomly removing instructions, adding new instructions, or combining successful instructions and testing the strategy again.

Through this evolutionary process, Geneva is able to identify multiple evasion strategies very quickly, said the study. (IANS)