The Growing Threat Of AI-Driven Phishing Attacks 

Artificial intelligence is one of the hottest topics in the industry right now, whether that is about ChatGPT, improved operations or advancing technologies there is a lot of buzz around AI. One serious implication of the commoditization of AI is malicious misuse of the technology. This is something the cybersecurity industry is already seeing as phishing attacks become increasingly sophisticated, faster than ever.

The use of AI in phishing campaigns is concerning because when combined with the growing access threat actors have to networks and systems, they can produce higher volumes of phishing content and thus, amass more data to exploit. As AI tools like Chat GPT become more widely available to the public, even non-technical cybercriminals are becoming more potent threats.

In this blog, we will explore how threat actors are using AI to boost phishing efforts, steps you can take to remain aware, and how security awareness training will need to change to adapt to these changing threats.

How Threat Actors Leverage AI Boost Phising Efforts

AI-driven phishing attacks can manifest in various forms, such as a Microsoft Teams call from a manager whose voice has been replicated, requesting sensitive company information or even highly technical emails tailored to recent work activities within the target environment.

Most commonly, threat actors are using AI to enhance the effectiveness of their phishing campaigns in real time. By analyzing the success rates of different phishing campaigns and identifying successful strategies, AI algorithms can generate new and more effective phishing tactics, making it harder for security systems to detect and prevent attacks. 

But that is not all, a malicious threat actor can leverage AI to enhance the effectiveness of their phishing campaigns in various ways, including: 

  1. Improved personalization: AI can analyze large datasets to gather personal information about potential victims. 
  1. Natural language generation (NLG): AI can employ NLG techniques to craft convincing, human-like emails. 
  1. Social engineering: AI can be used to analyze the digital footprint and social media presence of targets, allowing attackers to better understand their victims’ interests. 
  1. Bypassing security measures: AI can be utilized to adapt to and bypass security measures, such as CAPTCHAs, two-factor authentication, or machine learning-based spam filters. 
  1. Automating attacks: AI can automate the process of sending phishing emails or messages, allowing attackers to target many victims in a short period of time.  
  1. Creating deepfakes: AI can generate highly realistic deepfake images, videos, or audio recordings to impersonate trusted individuals or organizations 
  1. AI-assisted vishing: AI can generate realistic voice clones or mimic human speech patterns, enabling attackers to carry out vishing attacks 

Recommended Actions to Protect Against The Threat Of AI-Driven Phishing Attacks 

As the prevalence of AI-driven phishing attacks continues to rise, it is crucial to take proactive measures to safeguard yourself and your organization against these threats. By following these recommended actions, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to such attacks: 

  1. Do not click on links or download attachments: Avoid clicking on any suspicious links or downloading attachments from unverified sources. 
  1. Report the phishing attempt: Notify your organization’s IT or security department about the phishing attack. 
  1. Mark the email as spam: Mark the phishing email as spam or phishing in your email account, which will help improve the email filtering system and prevent similar messages. 
  1. Delete the email: Remove the phishing email from your inbox to eliminate any risk of accidentally interacting with it later. 
  1. Change your credentials: If you believe you may have provided your login credentials or other sensitive information to the attacker, change your passwords immediately and inform your IT department. 
  1. Monitor your accounts: Keep a close eye on your financial accounts and online services for any signs of unauthorized access or suspicious activity. 
  1. Install security updates: Ensure that your devices, software, and antivirus programs are up to date. 
  1. Educate others: Share your experience with colleagues, friends, or family members to raise awareness about phishing attacks and help them learn how to identify and avoid such threats. 

By implementing these recommended actions, you can fortify your defences against AI-driven phishing attacks and minimize the potential impact of these malicious attempts. Remember, staying informed, vigilant, and proactive is crucial in today’s ever-evolving threat landscape. 

The Future of Security Awareness Training and AI-Driven Phishing Attacks 

With AI allowing cybercriminals to impersonate managers and get more strategic with their email attempts, businesses are going to need to get more creative with their security awareness training to keep up.  

Today, security awareness training is often seen as a chore or something many people don’t pay attention to. We have all seen the cost that can have on businesses when they experience a phishing attack. Companies will need to adopt more creative and engaging training programs to effectively educate employees about the risks and techniques used by cybercriminals. For example, having a code word with your management team for requests of business data or information over the phone.  

Additionally, implementing managed email threat detection and response or new accountability measures can significantly enhance the effectiveness of such training. For instance, including clauses in employment contracts that hold individuals responsible for clicking on phishing emails can foster a culture of heightened security awareness. When employees understand that their actions have direct consequences, they are more likely to take security training seriously, reducing the risk of compromising company data and infrastructure. Building a strong security-conscious workforce is crucial in combating the evolving landscape of phishing threats facilitated by AI technology. 

Discover our Key Tips on What You Need to Launch an Effective Security Awareness Program and What to Look for When Outsourcing These Services in the Ultimate Guide here:

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Ken Perkins

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Megan Miller

Megan Miller’s energy and passion for learning flow into all aspects of her work. As the Growth Manager, North America, she brings a background in sciences which she has transitioned to the tech sector in her role at Difenda.

With a Bachelors of Science in Geology, Megan is a lifelong learner who is voracious about learning anything she can get her hands on about cybersecurity. Her positive energy has built a sales strategy with a focus on expanding in the United States while nurturing the Canadian presence. She is responsible for recruiting and training the sales team. Together with the company’s leadership, she creates the sales process and the company’s product strategy in order to better serve the customer base. This ensures that our customers have a highly trained and highly motivated team to help them every step of the way, Megan has completed Microsoft SC-900 training and working towards mastering Microsoft.

Whether at work or play, Megan is fully committed. She took her love of hockey all the way to the semi-professional level as a competitive hockey player. Megan loves all things sports including water skiing, scuba diving, cycling, and snowboarding. She also enjoys time with family and reading about alternative energy, innovation, and cybersecurity.

Natasha Phanor

As the Microsoft Partner Manager at Difenda, Natasha Phanor is responsible for driving growth within our Microsoft Partnership. With six years in the industry, she offers a fresh, energetic approach, and the ability to focus on our customer’s needs throughout the entire process. Natasha has the innate ability to foresee customer needs and solve problems before they arise, which creates a smooth road for each customer she encounters.

As the recipient of the Outstanding Services Partner of the Year Award in 2018, it is clear that Natasha responds quickly to customer needs, creates a platform for understanding a customer’s business requirements, and walks them through the process to ensure their complete satisfaction.

In her spare time, Natasha is as energetic and passionate as she is on the job. A self-proclaimed foodie-extraordinaire, she enjoys dinner parties, traveling, downhill skiing, hiking, biking, and reading. Natasha has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, specializing in Dance, from Ryerson University.

Lisa Templeton

Lisa Templeton is the perfect combination of human empathy and technological prowess. In her role as People Services Manager, she takes care of our team members to support them in their daily work, as well as on their personal life paths. Happy employees make for happy customers, and Lisa excels in giving our employees the tools they need for success in order to become the best possible versions of themselves. Along with employee formation, she shines in the service delivery support domain to continuously improve the process. Her 24 years of experience in IT Operations and Service Management help her create quality and efficiency at Difenda.

Having attended the Information Systems Management certificate program at Ryerson University, and with various other certifications to her credit, Lisa is perceptive and innovative when it comes to information technology, but also sensitive to the needs of her human constituents. Responsible for achieving the first privately owned company HDI Support Center certification in Canada, she has also designed and implemented Service Management excellence programs and 24×7 IT Operations departments for multiple IT organizations, and has created corporate rewards and recognition programs to keep her employees engaged and motivated.

On the personal side, Lisa passionately supports the cause of breast cancer research, having lost her mother to the disease. She reads voraciously in her spare time, and enjoys the art of home renovation. The summer months also bring time on her boat and exploring new hiking trails.

Miranda McCurdy

Miranda McCurdy uses her myriad super powers in all aspects of her job and personal life. As the Marketing Director at Difenda, Miranda McCurdy brings over a decade of experience to the table, which includes expertise in all facets of operations, brand management, and content marketing, as well as a multitude of successful strategies for the ever-expanding digital world. She is an expert at simplifying the message the company is trying to send, filling in gaps in the information, and strengthening the content in order to create compelling narratives that strengthen the brand and developing programs that bring teams together.

With several Addy Awards issued by the American Advertising Federation Cleveland to her credit, and her never say die attitude, Miranda understands both the broader picture and the minute details that are needed to successfully market a product. With her abilities to harness both the talent needed to spread the message, as well as to create the message itself, she is an integral cog in the company’s ability to communicate with customers and other stakeholders.

When she is not building a brand, she shares her ability to fill the gaps in her community by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics, and the Charleston Food Bank. In her spare time, Miranda spends time with her family, enjoys fitness and health, paddle boarding, reading, and arts and crafts.

Juliana Zaremba

Connections are the name of the game for Juliana Zaremba. As Strategic Partnerships Director, she is responsible for Difenda’s channel partnerships and the development and ownership of the channel partner program. She is also responsible for the global Microsoft Partnership, including the creation of strategic plans with MSFT contacts that will facilitate the continued growth of the business and establish certification and training protocols in all security technologies. Her role is multifaceted, as she acquires partners, manages relationships with them, and develops strategies that will provide cutting edge security solutions to our customer base. Another integral aspect of her job is to facilitate growth.

With a Bachelor’s in Math from the University of Waterloo and 14 years of experience from her previous roles at Herjavec Group and CDW, her cutting edge focus and ability to develop long-lasting relationships and strategies provides world class security solutions to our customer base.

Juliana thrives on connections outside of work as well. She is a philanthropist and contributor with Women4Change based in Hamilton. This group of local women is passionate about supporting local causes, and she focuses her efforts around Women in STEM. She is also a member of Club Italia in Niagara Falls and supports their youth events throughout the year.

When not managing the Microsoft Global partnership, Juliana enjoys reading, often reading several books at once. Juliana enjoys exploring the Niagara Escarpment with her family, as well as sharing meals and experiences with her extended family. Juliana’s competitive nature has her always trying new things, like Whoop band challenges and Peloton.

Jeffry Jacob

Biography Coming Soon