Four Chinese individuals arrested for ChatGPT-made ransomware

In the first case of its kind, four cyberattackers in China were arrested for developing ransomware using ChatGPT, which is not officially available in the country, the South China Morning Post reported.

The first reported AI-powered ransomware victim, an unidentified company, was reported in Hangzhou, capital of eastern Zhejiang province. Hackers tried to extort $20,000 in cryptocurrency for unblocking and restoring access to its systems.

The state-run Xinhua News Agency reported that police arrested two suspects in Beijing and two others in Inner Mongolia in late November. The GPT criminals admitted to “writing versions of ransomware, optimizing the program with the help of ChatGPT, conducting vulnerability scans, gaining access through infiltration, implanting ransomware, and carrying out extortion,” the report said.

The police’s report doesn’t mention if the use of ChatGPT forms part of the charges.

China has banned ChatGPT and appears to be willing to extend this ban to any apps it believes are using the AI program while its domestic companies develop locally-made AI-powered large language models. Baidu recently announced that its ChatGPT-like Ernie Bot has garnered more than 100 million users.

So far, AI-powered tools haven’t transformed the cybercrime scene. There have been many illicit clones of ChatGPT, purposefully built for malicious applications, but they haven’t proven very useful for cybercriminals, Sophos researchers believe.

However, generative AI is already being used for deception. Hiya’s researchers indicate that scammers with voice-cloning technology can try to convince victims by impersonating relatives or officials.

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