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WormGPT – The e-advertising villain of ChatGPT

Posted by Huzefa Hakim | September 4, 2023

WormGPT – The e-advertising villain of ChatGPT

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, the fusion of artificial intelligence and e-advertising has become a double-edged sword. While AI has paved the way for unparalleled targeting, personalization, and efficiency in digital advertising, it has also given rise to malicious entities like WormGPT. This poses a significant threat to both advertisers and publishers, jeopardising the integrity of digital ad campaigns and the revenue streams of those involved.

54.5% of marketers believe that AI will most likely greatly enhance their marketing efforts. While the advantages of e-advertising and AI integration are what the world looks forward to, a bigger question that arises is how will attackers take undue advantage of this. 

WormGPT is an answer that is assisting malicious activities primarily through Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks and other phishing scams. In this blog, we will delve deep into this black sheep and how can it potentially impact advertisers and publishers as well in the future.

What is WormGPT?

WormGPT is not a creature from a sci-fi novel, but rather a manifestation of the darker side of AI. It is an advanced AI program that leverages the capabilities of GPT-based models, such as ChatGPT, to automate fraudulent activities within the business world. The attackers mainly use this tool to carry out phishing attacks and BEC attacks in particular targeting the employees of an organization to extract confidential information.

Features of WormGPT

  1. Lightning-fast response: Just like the usual generative AI models, WormGPT also ensures efficient and quick replies to the users by reducing wait time for conversations to proceed.
  2. Unlimited characters: Unlike ChatGPT, which has a limit of 4096 characters, WormGPT offers unlimited character space paving the way for lengthy discussions and conversations.
  3. Multiple models: The tool has been programmed in such a way that it can tailor to the specific needs of the users through different AI models to support interactions of all types; from professional inquiry to a malicious brainstorming session.
  4. Memorize context: To make sure that no conversation is left incomplete and a contextual understanding is ensured between the user and the tool, Worm GPT has rolled out the ‘Memorize Context’ feature in its beta version that ensures a context-aware response in each interaction.

How is it being used for BEC attacks?

  1. Social Engineering Prowess- WormGPT's conversational deception abilities make it a potent tool for carrying out social engineering attacks. It can craft compelling emails, impersonating colleagues, clients, or even executives within an organization.
  2. Mimicking Communication Styles- WormGPT can analyze historical email exchanges to accurately mimic the writing style, tone, and language used by legitimate contacts. This makes it challenging for recipients to discern fraudulent emails from genuine ones.
  3. Targeted Spear Phishing- WormGPT can tailor its emails to specific individuals or departments, increasing the likelihood of success in spear phishing attacks. By incorporating personal details and context from publicly available sources, it gains credibility.
  4. Financial Fraud-BEC attacks often involve tricking recipients into making financial transactions, such as wire transfers to fraudulent accounts. WormGPT can manipulate email content to request these transactions convincingly, leading to substantial financial losses.
  5. Data Exfiltration- Beyond financial fraud, WormGPT can engage in data exfiltration by sending seemingly innocuous emails that request sensitive information or encourage recipients to click on malicious links, potentially compromising valuable data.
  6. Rapid Response Time- WormGPT can respond to emails in real time, making it appear as though it is actively engaged in a conversation. This can lead to quicker decisions and actions by unsuspecting recipients, increasing the effectiveness of the attack.

BEC Attacks

Should advertisers and publishers worry? Is their future good enough?

  1. Reduced Monetization- A business that is accused of targeting leads through fake messages will indirectly receive fewer interactions on its ads. As a result, the monetization opportunities of associated publishers will drastically reduce.
  2. Leads Damage- WormGPT’s content generation abilities look deadly and so does the e-advertising ecosystem when we speak of generating leads from an ad campaign. Fake sugar-coated messages targeted at genuine leads can be used to deceive them to click malicious links which when done can lead to the compromise of their personal data.
  3. Reduced Customer Retention- An advertiser willing to reap the benefits of e-advertising through email marketing campaigns may suffer exorbitant losses if these campaigns are plagued by fraudsters through fake e-mails directed towards the large stacks of consumer data gathered through months of research and hard work. Once these customers fall prey to these phishing e-mail attacks from fraudulent sources, advertisers may never be able to retain them. As a result, their programmatic ad campaigns would suffer from reduced credibility which will also impact their relationship with the publishers.

In this ever-advancing digital world, understanding the modus operandi of WormGPT is the first step towards safeguarding your e-advertising investments. Advertisers must invest in robust fraud detection solutions, like ClearTrust, closely monitor campaign performance, and adapt to changing fraud tactics. Publishers, on the other hand, should focus on maintaining transparency and credibility to retain advertiser trust.

Though WormGPT is not a source of bot generation at present, with constant upgradation, it wouldn’t be an understatement to mention that it can generate data related to programming a highly sophisticated bot which can further be used to damage the e-advertising ecosystem.