The start of 2023 has been filled with excitement around ChatGPT and the possibilities of AI. Most of us have given it a try and many are starting to imagine the way this technology can be put to use to change business processes to be simpler, faster and more efficient.

This is big news for businesses. Simply put, two ways for businesses to improve profitability are to reduce costs or increase perceived value. One of the super powers of ChatGPT seems to be the way it’s being utilized to reduce operating costs through automation and process improvement. A great example of this is massive online content company Buzzfeed, who recently announced plans to lay off 12% of its staff claiming that it would instead be using AI and ChatGPT to generate content for it’s platform. This news saw a considerable bump in its stock price.

There are wins to be had here for accountants and bookkeepers as well, just ask the bot (as it was further done below).  

Unfortunately, hackers and bad actors look to innovate just like businesses, and ChatGPT provides an excellent platform for hackers to automate tasks like creating phishing emails and writing malware to infect end users’ systems.

Read on to discover the possibilities of ChatGPT in the accounting industry as well as how hackers will be using it to target your firm more easily than ever before.

How accountants and bookkeepers can use ChatGPT

One of the most common uses for ChatGPT in businesses has been leveraging its Large Language Model (LLM) by feeding it prompts after which it spits out reasonably good quality content. This can be used to shorten research, help write marketing content and even produce good quality emails to clients.

Aside from writing emails and documents, ChatGPT has huge potential for accountants and bookkeepers. We asked ChatGPT itself how professionals in the industry can use it, and it responded with the following:

How can accountants use chatgtp
ChatGPT’s response to how accountants can use the tool

The dark side of AI tools

While the benefits of ChatGPT are vast, it’s also important to be aware of how bad actors can exploit this technology to scam and hack businesses.

Check Point Research which provides cyber threat intelligence recently tested the capabilities of ChatGPT to be used maliciously. The Study found that English was no longer a barrier to creating and launching effective email based attacks, with ChatGPT perfectly capable of crafting phishing emails.

A phishing email generated by ChatGPT during Check Point’s research

Taking the research a step further Check Point uses ChatGPT and another tool to build basic malicious VBA code that can be included in the phishing email to infect a receipt’s system.

The main point here is that social engineering tactics especially targeting email systems have become much easier to build and launch with the power of AI. Given the right data to consume, you can imagine how AI tools might learn to improve the effectiveness of the emails it generates to produce the maximum result i.e. emails opens and attachment engagement.

What does this mean for accountants and bookkeepers?

It’s conceivable that we can expect an increase in email attacks over this year and the next few as these tools are scaled into effective, automated systems. It’s therefore prudent that firms have effective measures in place around their business tools like email and are training staff in the kinds of threats to be aware of.

This is a quickly evolving space and where there are so many exciting applications of this technology to adopt, there are also threats to be aware of to ensure your business has minimized it’s risk.

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This article by Invigor8 Accountants and Advisors was first published in Practice Protect our partner to protect our business. If you’re interested in cybersecurity, you may contact them here.