ChatGPT-Themed Scam Attacks Are on the Rise

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ChatGPT has exploded in popularity in the last few months – with people using it for everything from writing rap songs, doing their homework, writing cover letters for job applications, and even reviewing code.

It’s no surprise that attackers are also trying to leverage the popularity of the app to scam people.

Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 releases research on how ChatGPT-themed scams are on the rise as generative AI continues to grow in popularity. The research highlights scammers’ various methods to entice users into downloading malware or sharing sensitive information, including specific case studies and examples. Highlights include:

  • Between November 2022-April 2023, Unit 42 observed an increase of 910% in monthly registrations for domains related to ChatGPT
  • There were more than 100 daily detections of ChatGPT-related malicious URLs captured from traffic seen in the Palo Alto Networks Advanced URL Filtering system
  • In the same timeframe, the team observed nearly 18,000% growth of squatting domains from DNS security logs

Executive Summary

Unit 42 researchers are monitoring the trending topics, newly registered domains and squatting domains related to ChatGPT, as it is one of the fastest-growing consumer applications in history. The dark side of this popularity is that ChatGPT is also attracting the attention of scammers seeking to benefit from using wording and domain names that appear related to the site.

Between November 2022 through early April 2023, we noticed a 910% increase in monthly registrations for domains related to ChatGPT. In this same time frame, we observed a 17,818% growth of related squatting domains from DNS Security logs. We also saw up to 118 daily detections of ChatGPT-related malicious URLs captured from the traffic seen in our Advanced URL Filtering system.

We now present several case studies to illustrate the various methods scammers use to entice users into downloading malware or sharing sensitive information. As OpenAI released its official API for ChatGPT on March 1, 2023, we’ve seen an increasing number of suspicious products using it. Thus, we highlight the potential dangers of using copycat chatbots, in order to encourage ChatGPT users to approach such chatbots with a defensive mindset. Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall and Prisma Access customers with Advanced URL Filtering, DNS Security and WildFire subscriptions receive protections against ChatGPT-related scams. All mentioned malicious indicators (domains, IPs, URLs and hashes) are covered by these security services.

To access the full report, please visit here.

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