UAE: ChatGPT used to launch cyber and ransomware attacks, says head of cybersecurity

He says in his keynote address at the 6th CSIS Cybersecurity Innovation Series Conference in Dubai that technology is a double-edged sword


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Wed 7 Jun 2023, 1:23 PM

Last updated: Wed 7 Jun 2023, 4:37 PM

Cyber attackers are using ChatGPT to launch ransomware attacks, said a senior UAE government official on Wednesday.

“The emerging trend at the start of the year is that ChatGPT is used in some of the ransomware and phishing attacks. We investigated this with our partners and the discovery is really clear that adversaries are using that more and more,” said Dr Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, Head of Cybersecurity, UAE Government.

While delivering a keynote address on the second day of the 6th CSIS Cybersecurity Innovation Series Conference in Dubai on Wednesday, he said adversaries are designing tools using many aspects of ChatGPT to launch attacks.

“ChatGPT is used for reprogramming and adding some of the ransomware scripts. Attackers use it for e-mail phishing or drafting emails. We saw some of those as a matter of fact,” Al Kuwaiti told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the conference on Wednesday.

Technology experts on the first day of the conference also warned that artificial intelligence is being used by cyber criminals to launch attacks.

“Recently we had big attacks against governmental aspects and we were able to deter and prevent against our infrastructure with the help of our partners,” Al Kuwaiti said.

He added that recently cyberattacks were launched against the electricity, energy, transportation, aviation, education, and healthcare sectors.

“The ransomware attack was focused on the financial sector mainly. When we investigated, we found that many financial sector players take great advantage of the cloud,” he said, adding that sanctions being imposed against ransomware attackers with the help of bilateral and multilateral collaboration with Interpol, Europe and other players would help lowering cyberattacks.

He alerted that the use of artificial intelligence (AI) by attackers is a threat to the infrastructure and the UAE government also uses AI to defend and protect its infrastructure against cyber attacks. “Technology is like two-edged swords. You can use it for good or bad.”

The head of cybersecurity added the government is continuing to build a cybersecurity culture across all aspects of life, including education.

“Many of the curricula have been updated and integrated with cybersecurity digital transformation as part of Vision 2030, Vision 2050 and Centennial 2071. All authorities and ministries have already adopted cybersecurity across all of their curricula. A new cyber pulse has been launched about spreading awareness of the cyberculture,” added Al-Kuwaiti.

He pointed out that cloud security policy is in place and the teams are highly talented to work and innovate many laws.

“We need everybody in the community to help raise awareness in order to ensure that nobody is left behind in terms of cybersecurity,” he concluded.


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