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Combating Phishing Attacks with AI and LLM: Protecting Your Business from Social Engineering


Paige Tester
Paige Tester

Discover how artificial intelligence and large language models are revolutionizing the way we detect and prevent phishing attacks.

Combating Phishing Attacks with AI and LLM: Protecting Your Business from Social Engineering

Despite being one of the oldest and most well-known cybersecurity threats, phishing continues to put businesses in jeopardy.

An electronic form of social engineering, phishing attacks occur when an attacker impersonates a reputable source that the victim trusts. This might be an online service the victim uses, or it could be the website of a vendor, trusted contact, or even a friend. Through the use of carefully crafted but fraudulent emails, texts, and websites that appear legitimate at first glance, phishing attacks lure victims into a false sense of security and harvests passwords and other sensitive data. Phishing can also lead to a direct loss of company money, intellectual property, and other assets.

The FBI reports that the potential total loss from these attacks is more than $10 billion annually. With attacks on the rise and getting more sophisticated, it’s more important than ever for businesses to protect themselves from phishing and other social engineering schemes. Many companies are combating phishing attacks with AI. New AI tools that use large language models (LLM) are taking real-time phishing detection to impressive new levels.

Understanding Phishing and How Cybercriminals Use It

Before digging into fighting phishing attacks with AI, here’s a quick recap of the most popular types of phishing.

Email phishing is the most common form of the attack. Messages that appear to come from the recipient’s email provider, bank, or legitimate company that falsely claim the recipient’s password needs to be reset or document needs to be viewed, for example. The recipient will be directed to a webpage that resembles the spoofed vendor’s legitimate site. At this point, the victim is prompted to enter their username and password in order to continue to the next step, effectively giving up their credentials to cybercriminals.

Spear phishing is a refined form of email phishing that’s personalized toward the intended victim. Whaling is similar, only with high-profile targets like CEOs or government officials.

Smishing works the same way, with SMS text messages as the attack vector instead of email. Vishing is voice phishing, with phone callers impersonating representatives from banks, the government, or technical support.

A more advanced phishing scheme is pharming, which is a manipulation of the domain name system (DNS) by way of malware on the victim’s device. Pharming attacks redirect legitimate DNS requests to fraudulent sites.

Businesses that fall victim to phishing attacks risk loss of data, financial loss, damaged reputations after the public becomes aware of a breach, intellectual property theft, and more. This all adds up to an annual loss of $14.8 million lost for the average company.

Combating Phishing Attacks with AI

It seems that AI is everywhere these days as companies eagerly harness the power of machine learning. Now machine learning algorithms are being used to fight off phishing attacks with AI.

AI-powered filters analyze the content of emails before they reach a user’s inbox and detect patterns unique to phishing. The algorithms can detect certain keywords, phrases, grammatical style, and suspicious links. Phishing emails can then be flagged or deleted before they cause problems.

Combating phishing attacks with AI is making a huge difference in the enterprise. Compared to legacy anti-phishing tools, AI offers real-time detection and improved accuracy. Machine learning algorithms are much more adaptable to new attacks and can easily scale to meet the needs of larger organizations.

How LLMs Fight Phishing Attacks

Large language models have brought AI into the mainstream. LLM is the algorithm that gives AI the capability to understand and generate human-like language. OpenAI’s GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) products, including the ever-popular chatbot ChatGPT, are a good example of LLM’s ability to study text, learn patterns and context, and process it all semantically.

When trained on phishing data, LLM performs a robust analysis of content in emails, messages, and other phishing attack vectors. LLM can quickly learn the specific language, types of requests, and other suspicious elements of phishing attacks. These models can even analyze a phishing victim’s behavior to better understand what tactics people fall for.

When all of the capabilities of AI and LLM are put together, businesses are significantly more protected from phishing and other social engineering attacks. Cybersecurity tools using AI and LLM learn about threats faster, have fewer false positives, and have superior pattern recognition compared to legacy threat detection tools. This prevents phishing attacks from making it through to end users and keeps enterprise data and financial resources safe.

Protecting Your Business from Phishing Attacks: Best Practices

While AI and LLM are bringing exciting innovations to cybersecurity, some of the best practices for fighting phishing attacks are things you can do right now.

Most companies will start with employee training and education. With the prevalence of phishing in today’s world, your employees need to understand what it is and how cybercriminals benefit from it. However, with email attacks getting more sophisticated, employee education can only do so much. More advanced tools are needed to catch what the average employee will miss.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a general purpose tool in the war on phishing and other email attacks. The need to approve logins from a second device can help reduce the loss of some sensitive data. However, it can't be assumed that hackers won't have a way to authenticate a login from a second device, so it's best not to rely solely on MFA to prevent credential loss.

Also, make sure to regularly update your software and security protocols. Regular updates address new security threats as they become known, hardening your systems’ defenses on a continual basis.

Armorblox Fights Phishing With AI and LLM

Phishing has been around since the dawn of the internet. Unfortunately, it’s not going away anytime soon. Untold losses of money, data, productivity, and more are all thanks to phishing attacks. It’s important to stay vigilant against the threats that can mean disaster for your company.

Armorblox uses large language models and AI deep learning to provide sophisticated protection against email attacks.

Have you heard the news? Cisco recently announced its intent to acquire Armorblox. Read more about how Cisco is furthering the AI-first security cloud.

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