Europol warns of criminal use of OpenAI’s ChatGPT; provides grim outlook

    Three crime areas of concern including fraud and social engineering, disinformation, and cyberbullying, amongst many, were identified by Europol’s experts.


    The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, or Europol, on Monday warned of the potentially criminal misuse of OpenAI’s artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT. The Microsoft-backed chatbot, alongside other large language models, could be used as a tool for phishing, spreading misinformation, and propaganda, among others.


    “In response to the growing public attention given to ChatGPT, the Europol Innovation Lab organised a number of workshops with subject matter experts from across Europol to explore how criminals can abuse large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT, as well as how it may assist investigators in their daily work,” the EU police force said.


    “As the capabilities of LLMs such as ChatGPT are actively being improved, the potential exploitation of these types of AI systems by criminals provide a grim outlook,” Europol added.


    While a longer and more in-depth version of the report was produced for law enforcement only, its excerpts highlighted three crime areas of concern, amongst many, identified by Europol’s experts. These include fraud and social engineering, disinformation, and cyberbullying.


    The report highlighted that the LLMs are capable of reproducing language patterns that can be used to impersonate the style of speech of specific individuals or groups. This can be abused at scale by criminal actors to mislead and target potential victims. “ChatGPT’s ability to draft highly realistic text makes it a useful tool for phishing purposes,” the report noted.


    Furthermore, ChatGPT’s ability to produce authentic-sounding text at speed and scale makes it an ideal tool for disseminating propaganda and disinformation. In addition to this, the AI chatbot can produce code in several different programming languages that can prove to be an invaluable resource for a potential criminal with little technical knowledge to produce malicious code.


    “As technology progresses, and new models become available, it will become increasingly important for law enforcement to stay at the forefront of these developments to anticipate and prevent abuse,” it noted.


    Short for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer, ChatGPT is a popular AI text generator and has been a center of attention for many due to its human-like response. The AI race has intensified after OpenAI’s ChatGPT came into the limelight since its launch in November last year.


    The AI-based text generator has passed some of the toughest exams in the U.S., including the United States Medical Licensing Exam and an MBA core course – Operations Management offered by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. On the other hand, plagiarism and false information concerns have even led to a ban on chatbot usage from certain institutes like Sciences Po, one of the top universities in France.


    Several other tech majors like Google, Baidu, etc. have come up with their own versions of the AI chatbot. While the Sundar Pichai-led company announced its experimental conversational artificial intelligence chatbot service Bard as competition to Microsoft-backed ChatGPT in February, Chinese tech giant Baidu unveiled its AI chatbot Ernie earlier this month.


    author avatar
    Monika Asthana




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