AI chatbots and image generators may lead to new mobile threats, McAfee says

The McAfee Consumer Mobile Threat Report found that advancements in AI chatbots and image generators could to lead to new mobile threats and aid scammers

February 28, 2023 11:01 am | Updated 11:01 am IST

File photo of the ChatGPT chatbot on a smartphone

File photo of the ChatGPT chatbot on a smartphone | Photo Credit: AP

The release of applications such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot and DALL-E 2 image generator have provided powerful Artificial Intelligence (AI) to the masses which can be used by cybercriminals, McAfee in its annual Consumer Mobile Threat Report shared.

The report found that with the emergence of AI tools, scammers are able to clean up their grammatical errors and phrasing which allows users to identify fraudulent links and messages.

The severity of these communication threats is evident in the volume of adults (66%) who have been messaged by a stranger on social media, with 55% asked to transfer money. The report also shared that 6.2% of threats identified on Google during 2022 were in the “Communication” category, mainly malware masquerading as SMS apps, which are used by scammers to target users.

While 23% of the identified threats were found in the “Tools” app category, 9% of threats were found to exist in games apps including casual, arcade, and action games.

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In the tools category, threats detected in work-related apps for mobile devices include productivity categories like PDF editors, VPNs, messaging managers, document scanners, battery boosters, and memory cleaners.

The malware was found to target people because the apps require permissions on their devices which included permission to access storage, messages, calendars, contacts, location, and even system settings. These permissions could allow scammers to retrieve a lot of work-related information, the report shared.

In gaming, malicious apps were found in target apps most used by children and teens including applications for gaming, making videos, and managing social media. The most common types of threats detected within the gaming category in 2022 were aggressive adware. These were found to display excessive advertisements while using the app and even when the apps were not in use.

Report findings are based on a survey conducted between January 27 and February 1, 2023 with more than 5,000 adults in nine countries.

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