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Cybersafe March 08, 2024

How AI can change the game on cybersecurity

Cybercrimes and scams online are topics that have been extensively discussed when it comes to cybersecurity. With so many learning materials out there, it is so easy to build a basic foundation on how to protect yourself in the online world.

However, even if one already has that knowledge, that does not mean there is no more to be learned out there. With technology continuing to disrupt our daily lives, how we understand cybersecurity in the future will be highly likely different from the one we understand today.


AI: A double-edged sword


As the world around us increasingly gets online, artificial intelligence has become one of the most prominent disruptors in modern society. The concept of allowing a machine to replace humans in completing tasks has allowed our world to become much more efficient, thus making our lives more convenient than before.

However, advancements in technology are not just used for society’s benefit — there are people who want to harm others through AI. When it comes to cybersecurity, AI can make common scams such as phishing more difficult for people to detect.

For example, the rise of “deepfakes” — or content that includes the likeness of a person who is not actually there — has raised concerns that more people, even those who know basic cybersecurity measures, could become victims.

This is what happened to a multinational firm in Hong Kong that lost HK$200 million to a scammer.1 According to a report by the South China Morning Post, the scammer pretended to be the firm’s CFO and asked an employee to transfer the money into different accounts.

To the employee’s credit, he made an effort to verify if it was actually the CFO who made the request. He was able to get into a video conferencing call with the CFO, who then confirmed the request.

The catch was that the “CFO” in the call was actually a deepfake made by the scammer to trick the employee.

Deepfakes are being used across various scams as well. One article by U.S.-based ABC News found various videos in Facebook, Youtube, and TikTok claiming Elon Musk is promoting certain cryptocurrencies — which are highly not regulated by government authorities.2 This has also happened in the Philippines as well, with celebrities such as Vice Ganda and former Department of Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez purportedly being endorsers of cryptocurrency, according to various news reports.3,4


What can we do to protect ourselves?


Indeed, AI does present risks when it comes to cybersecurity. Even if someone may have the basic knowledge of spotting out cybercriminals, new technology can be used to make scams increasingly difficult to spot out.

However, this does not mean AI is bad per se for cybersecurity. As a matter of fact, technology can also be harnessed to enhance cybersecurity systems. For example, some banks in the Philippines are using AI that can do voice authentication to identify fraud.5

This technology works by identifying whether the voice in a call is actually that of the owner of the account. While this concept is still in the works, this provides one further step towards preventing cybercriminals from completing their phishing scams and other financial fraud, such as the usage of mule accounts.

As for consumers themselves, while new technology can make it trickier to spot cybercrimes, the core lesson still remains: Always verify the authenticity of messages. When you receive an email, text message, or call from a purported representative of the bank, always take the extra measure of reaching out to the bank’s official pages to ask for assistance.


If someone is pretending to be your loved one, you can reach out to them — whether on social media or even in person.