ChatGPT is used by cybercriminals to write better phishing emails

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 4, 2023

ChatGPT, the language model optimized for dialogue and conversation, has seen a lot of coverage in the past couple of months. Most coverage looks at the benefits or advantages of using ChatGPT, for instance, to improve search results or answers, help with coding tasks, provide recommendations or use as a translation tool.

ChatGPT can explain anything, even SEO

Some researchers look in another direction. They are interested in finding out how ChatGPT can potentially by abused by cybercriminals. Last month, Check Point Research published a report in which the company highlighted that malicious actors were using ChatGPT to write malware or improve malware.

Chester Wisniewski, principal research scientist at Sophos, revealed recently in an interview to Tech Target that he was not concerned about the technology that ChatGPT could do, but about the social side of abuse. Cyybercriminals could use ChatGPT to create phishing emails that looked like they were composed by a native speaker.

One of the shortcomings of phishing, even today, is that many phishing emails include spelling and grammar mistakes. While the overall quality of phishing emails has gone up significantly over time, many emails still have indicators that help computer users detect legitimate from illegitimate emails.

Wisniewski's example is the use of British English in phishing emails in the United States. British English differs from American English; some words are spelled differently, and American users are often up in guards when they notice these in emails. Similarly, British English language users would notice American English in phishing emails.

ChatGPT use in malicious emails

ChatGPT, and other language models that have similar capabilities, may be used to construct emails that match language in a certain region or country. It does not have to go as far as asking ChatGPT to copy the style of a famous author, but instructing it to write a formal message in American English that informs users about something is sufficient. The created email sounds like it has been written by a human, and all that is left to do is to plan the malicious bits into the email. These can be links to websites, but also attachments or requests to call a specific phone number.

Wisniewski believes that humans need help in detecting whether an email or chat message was written by a human or a bot. He suggests that the answer could be friendly AI that is analyzing content and providing users with estimations regarding the authenticity of the content. Researchers are already working on AI models that help determine whether content has been written by another AI.

These would then need to be integrated into security solutions, e.g., antivirus programs, and display notifications to users when the analysis suggests that content has been generated by an artificial intelligence and not a human.

Problem with this approach is that there are also legitimate uses of ChatGPT. Organizations and users may use ChatGPT to improve text, e.g. write better ad copy or help them with certain paragraphs. These are not created to scam users, but helpful AI may have difficulties distinguishing between the two use cases.

Closing Words

Phishing continues to be a threat, and the rise of ChatGPT and other language models is adding a new tool to the arsenal of cybercriminals. Most Internet users need to be aware of that and focus their attention on other aspects of emails. While the grammar and spelling may be excellent, there is still the need to get users to open email attachments or click on links, or perform another action.

Now You: have you tried ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is used by cybercriminals to write better phishing emails
Article Name
ChatGPT is used by cybercriminals to write better phishing emails
ChatGPT is helping cybercriminals write better phishing emails that look like they have written by humans and not AI, according to research.
Ghacks Technology News

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  1. JMGG said on January 19, 2012 at 8:25 am

    You said that Outlook isn’t your main email client, so which is your main one?

    1. BalaC said on January 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

      I think its thunderbird

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

      It is Mozilla Thunderbird.

  2. Salaam said on September 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Awesome! This actually solved my problem… what a stupid bug.

  3. Claud said on December 19, 2012 at 2:08 am

    If this is the same bug that I’ve encountered, there may be another fix: (1) hover over open Outlook item in Taskbar, cursor up to hover over Outlook window item, and right-click; (2) this should give you Restore / Move / Size / Minimize / Maximize — choose Move or Size; (3) use your cursor keys, going arbitrarily N/S/E/W, to try to move or size the Outlook window back into view. Basically, the app behaves as though it were open in a 0x0 window, or at a location that’s offscreen, and this will frequently work to resize and/or move the window. Don’t forget to close while resized/moved, so that Outlook remembers the size/position for next time.

    1. Lynda said on February 12, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      THANK YOU Claude!!! I could get the main window to launch but could not get any other message window to show on the desktop. You are my hero!!!!

    2. Chad said on November 20, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      Solved my issue! 6 years later and this is still problem…

    3. Ivan X said on January 21, 2021 at 4:50 pm

      Fantastic. Thank you. Size did the trick.

  4. Andrew said on October 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

    This solved my Outlook problem, too. Thank you. :)

  5. Charles said on December 7, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you so much, this started happening to me today and was causing big problems. You are a life saver, I hope I can help you in some way some day.

  6. garth said on November 7, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    You are a god – thank you!

  7. Faisal said on February 9, 2015 at 10:09 am

    thanks a lot…. work like charm.. :-)

  8. Simon said on March 24, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Yah…thanks Claude. I’ve been having the same problem and tried all the suggestions…your solution was the answer. It had resized itself to a 0/0 box. Cheers

  9. Olu said on April 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Excellent post. This had me baffled even trying to accurately describe the problem. This fixed it for me.
    Thank you

  10. Coenig said on July 23, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Thanks a lot for the article. Don’t know why it happenend, don’t know how it got fixed, but it was really annoying and now it works :-)

  11. Fali said on January 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks a lot. I was facing this issue from past 3 week. I tried everything but no resolution. The issue was happening intermittently and mainly when I was changing the display of screen ( as i use 2 monitors). The only option i had was to do system restore. But thanks to you.

    1. MIki said on January 10, 2019 at 11:54 am

      I’ve been tried to sole this problem for 12hours. Your comment about changing the display of screen helped me a lot!! Thanks!!

  12. Christina said on January 20, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you…don’t know why this happened but your instructions helped me fix it. Running Windows 10 and office pro 2007

  13. Oz said on July 22, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Great tip! Thanks!

  14. Tracy said on September 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Worked for me, too – thank you!!!

  15. shawn said on September 9, 2016 at 10:25 am

    It’s Worked for me, too
    thank you very much!

  16. Jari said on October 31, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I had a similar issue with Outlook 2013 on Windows 10 and this helped me to fix it. Thank you very much!

  17. Michel H said on November 30, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you so much. Solved!
    Considering you published this in 2012, incredible not been debugged by Microsoft.
    Thank you again. M

  18. Ziad Bitar said on January 9, 2017 at 2:00 am

    This problem was faced by only one user logging to TS 2008 r2 using outlook 2010.The issue was resolved.


  19. Anonymous said on February 15, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Great tip. Thank you!!!! If it helps, I had to use the Control Key and the arrow keys at the same time to bring my window back into view. Worked like a charm.

  20. Rochelle said on March 6, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Thank you, this worked !!!!

  21. anom1234 said on May 20, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    Man, you are a fucking god. Thanks a lot, what an annoying bug!!

  22. JC said on October 12, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Awesome, this post solved the issue. Many thanks!

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