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By Cam Sivesind
Thu | Apr 27, 2023 | 12:38 PM PDT

You can't have a conversation about cybersecurity these days without AI (OpenAI's ChatGPT, Google's Bard, MidJourney, etc.) and its potential impacts on the cybersecurity landscape, so it was fitting that the topic of "ChatGPT and Other AI Products: What Are the Implications for Cybersecurity?" is what kicked off the SecureWorld Philadelphia conference on April 19-20, 2023.

More than 320 attendees gathered to hear Donna Ross, SVP & CISO at Radian Group, and Eric Robuck, a Certified Ethical Hacker, and watched Robuck use ChatGPT and MidJourney live from the stage to create somewhat cringe-worthy content.

According to Robuck, he no longer uses a graphic designer or freelance content creator; and he doesn't even write his own emails and email replies anymore. That's the power—and perhaps risk?—of artificial intelligence.

"AI is a technology where it mimics the brain where it learns; the more it learns from the knowledge base it's been given," he said. "With ChatGPT, the more you use, the more it learns, so when you ask a question, it is not regurgitating information like Google does, it is actually coming up with new answers and looking at its knowledge base and answering your questions on what it quote unquote thinks is the correct answer."

As a live demonstration, Robuck asked ChatGPT to create a poem that extols the virtues of cybersecurity in the voice/viewpoint of Bilbo Baggins, the title character and protagonist of J. R. R. Tolkien's 1937 novel The Hobbit, a supporting character in The Lord of the Rings, and the fictional narrator (along with Frodo Baggins) of many of Tolkien's Middle-earth writings.

Here's what ChatGPT came up with:

In hobbit holes and in the shire,
Where the fires burn bright and higher,
Lived a hobbit small and bold,
Who knew the value of secrets untold.

Bilbo Baggins was his name,
A master thief with skills so untamed,
But he knew that secrets must be kept,
To protect oneself from danger, he adept.

He learned the art of cybersecurity,
To keep his treasures safe from prying eyes,
Firewalls, encryption, and passwords galore,
Protected his secrets forevermore.

He knew the value of a strong defense,
To ward off attacks, and prevent the offense,
Just like his trusty sword Sting,
Bilbo knew the value of protecting everything.

So let us learn from Bilbo's example,
To safeguard our secrets, and not trample,
For in this digital age, we must be wise,
And secure our information from unwanted eyes.

Like Bilbo Baggins, let us be bold,
And guard our treasures with methods so old,
Cybersecurity is the key to our peace,
Protecting our secrets and keeping them at ease.

Robuck even went as far as to take a photo of a friend and have that photo and the poem be the basis of a video—created by MidJourney, an AI art generator—in which the (again creepy) avatar recites the poem.

The point of the session was really to talk about what is possible with AI as it relates to cybersecurity and business in general, and what the risks are. Will bad actors be better at using it? Or is it just one more tool that cybersecurity professionals can use for the greater good to keep the world safe?

"I believe that the end of AI is going to be one of two things: it's going to be utopian or dystopian," Robuck said. "I truly believe it should be one of these things. We're all interconnected. And how quickly are these decision-making programs going to infiltrate all our computers and phones and be driving us to make decisions and we have to keep our brains about us? That's how I think we would fight that, through human brains, right? Because there's always the various people doing various things to do what they want. They're bad people and we have to stay human."

SecureWorld Kansas City, taking place May 3rd, is also opening with a keynote on this topic. Corian Kennedy, Founder of SecKC, will present "The Dark Side of AI: Unleashing the Power of HackGPT—Your Worst Nightmare Come to Life." Here's the full session description:

Welcome to the most cutting-edge, fear-inducing presentation on the dark side of AI. This presentation will take you on a heart-pumping journey into the world of hacking using the power of AI. Our presenter, a self-proclaimed hacker, will share his personal experiences and the latest advancements in ChatGPT technology that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to explore the dangerous world of AI-powered hacking. But beware: we only want attendees who are not afraid of the dark and who have a deep curiosity for the unknown.

Attendees will leave with a newfound understanding of the immense power and danger of AI in the world of hacking, and the dire need for heightened cybersecurity measures.

A panel at SecureWorld Chicago on June 8th will tackle the topic of "The Future of Privacy and Cyber: AI, Quantum, and Mind Readers." Panelists include: Monique Ferraro, Cyber Counsel, HSB Insurance; Karen Painter Randall, Partner & Chair, Cybersecurity, Data Privacy, and Incident Response, Connell Foley LLP; Violet Sullivan, VP, Client Engagement, Redpoint Cyber; and moderator Jordan Fischer, Cyber Attorney, Global Leader of Privacy Practice Group, Octillo Law.

While many of the cybersecurity professionals in attendance at SecureWorld Philadelphia did not have the same enthusiasm for AI as Robuck, there was a realization that it can't be avoided, it can be helpful, but it indeed has its risks.

Watch for more recap coverage of the Philadelphia event, including a Friday, April 28th, release of a special BarCode podcast session that was recorded onsite.