Google launches a lawsuit over fake Bard AI malware

Google has filed a lawsuit against alleged scammers who have been distributing malware posing as the company’s Bard AI, raising concerns over AI trust

Google is suing scammers over fake ‘Bard AI’ malware.

The tech giant has filed a lawsuit against anonymous threat actors that it is accusing of marketing fake downloads of its AI chatbot Bard with the aim of installing malware onto victim’s computers.

Google says that the alleged scammers are misusing its trademarks with names like "Google AI" and "AIGoogleBard" to lure users into downloading and installing an ‘unpublished’ version of Bard that is actually malware. The cybercriminals then use the malware to take over the social media accounts of their victims, thereby exploiting new and increased interest in AI.

Being wary of cyberattacks in the midst of the ‘AI hype’

Large technology companies like Google have been leading the AI race to incorporate these new digital systems into new and existing products. Google first released Bard in March 2023, operating as a conversational AI tool where users can collaborate with the chatbot to brainstorm ideas and increase productivity. 

In line with a hugely competitive AI and chatbot landscape, the company has envisioned Bard as a means to develop a new product that could attract a potential user base of two billion, which is a milestone achieved by only a select few products so far.

The scammers that infiltrated social media with the fake Bard advertisements are prolific and have misled people across the world.

Google says on their blog post: “As public excitement in new generative AI tools has increased, scammers are increasingly taking advantage of unsuspecting users. The fraudsters created social media pages and ran ads that encouraged people to “download” Bard, our freely available generative AI tool that does not need to be downloaded. The ads instead led people to download malware that compromised their social media accounts. 

“Since April [2023], we have filed roughly 300 takedowns related to this group of bad actors.”

The company continues: “We are seeking an order to stop the scammers from setting up domains like these and allow us to have them disabled with U.S. domain registrars. If this is successful, it will serve as a deterrent and provide a clear mechanism for preventing similar scams in the future.”

Disabling threat actors and maintaining an ‘AI-for-good’ mindset

Google was unable to identify the threat actors behind the Bard-malware scheme, but the lawsuit is asking a US district court for a “permanent injunction” to help the company shut down the online activities. This includes creating new internet domains or websites that use the Google and Bard trademarks. 

The same injunction would also force the malware creators to give up any profits made.

In the midst of increased global use of AI tools, cybercriminals are continually changing their tactics to breach digital systems in a more sophisticated way. By posing as a large technology organisation’s trusted product, these types of malware could impact public trust of notably trustworthy companies like Google.

Industry and world leaders around the world have already emphasised the increasing role that AI is having in shaping national security, with organisations starting to take action to balance innovation with safety and ensure minimal cybersecurity threats. It is important that both organisations and the public take extra steps to ensure they are not exposing themselves to malware or cyber threats.

The real link to access Bard is: https://bard.google.com/ 

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