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The Growing Influence of Artificial Intelligence on Social Engineering

Summary

Social engineering, the manipulation of human behavior to gain access to buildings, systems, or data, is experiencing a revolution thanks to artificial intelligence (AI). AI combines manipulation and social engineering, creating a new threat that even global cybersecurity experts are […]

The Growing Influence of Artificial Intelligence on Social Engineering

Social engineering, the manipulation of human behavior to gain access to buildings, systems, or data, is experiencing a revolution thanks to artificial intelligence (AI). AI combines manipulation and social engineering, creating a new threat that even global cybersecurity experts are vulnerable to.

Social engineering adapts, mimics, and convincingly bypasses protection – it is a technical trick of cybercriminals. From classic phishing scams to fraudulent phone calls and traps through fake offers, social engineering strategies rely on human nature: trust, emotions, and/or personal interest. These tactics exploit not only technical weaknesses but also human ones.

Artificial intelligence has changed the way social engineering is carried out. The foundation of AI and machine learning is the ability to process and interpret vast amounts of data and learn from it to achieve specific goals. For cybercriminals, these goals include targeting and personalization on a large scale. With the help of AI, cybercriminals can search social networks, corporate websites, and leaked data to tailor phishing campaigns that emotionally and personally resonate with their victims. The result is deception crafted to match the digital identity of each person. With AI, phishing messages are no longer filled with grammatical errors and easily noticeable signs; they are persuasive and context-aware. The game has changed: AI not only understands data but also human behavior.

The application of deepfake technology demonstrates how sophisticated the whole deception can be. Creating realistic video and audio recordings can enable cybercriminals to convincingly mimic the voice and appearance of anyone, even a company executive or high-ranking government official. The consequences can be serious: a well-executed deepfake can lead to misdirected funds, disclosure of sensitive information, or even geopolitical incidents.

Other forms of social engineering using AI are also significant. By using algorithms, leaked data and social media are analyzed to determine the most opportune moments for attacks. It is similar to when a burglar knows exactly when the homeowner will go for a run or on vacation, but in the digital realm.

Real-world examples confirm the impact of AI on social engineering. One AI system, after analyzing hundreds of hours of a company director’s speeches, created a perfect audio “deepfake.” In one incident, this technology was used to instruct a financial controller to transfer money to a fake account, a mistake that went unnoticed until the real director raised the alarm. Similarly, a fake social media account of a well-known journalist spread misinformation that caused significant damage to their reputation before the fraud was exposed.

How to deal with social engineering threats that utilize artificial intelligence? In addition to training employees to recognize scams, organizations should use AI in their defense strategies. Anomaly detection systems powered by AI can be the first indicator of social engineering. Just as AI learns human behavior to exploit it, we can use it to learn, predict, and prevent such incidents before they breach our defense walls.

With the increasing misuse of artificial intelligence for social engineering purposes, organizations must change their culture. Continuous learning and adaptable defenses are the keys to facing these threats head-on. The danger is real, but so are the defensive possibilities, and with artificial intelligence as an ally, security can be elevated to a higher level.

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