Artificial Intelligence Exploits Vulnerabilities in Systems with a 87 percent Success Rate

Based on a newly-released paper published by researchers at the University of Illinois, AI agents can combine large language models with automation software to autonomously analyze and exploit security vulnerabilities. During the research, OpenAI’s GPT-4 large language model was able to successfully exploit 87 percent of vulnerabilities when provided with a CVE advisory describing the flaws. The dataset included 15 one-day vulnerabilities taken from the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database. One-day vulnerabilities are vulnerabilities that have been disclosed but not patched. More than 50 percent of the dataset were critical or high-rated vulnerabilities.  Vulnerability exploitation was performed by GPT-4 using the ReAct automation framework.

Large language models are AI programs that use deep learning to recognize and interpret complex data such as human language. GPT-4 failed to exploit just two of the 15 vulnerabilities in the dataset. This included CVE-2023-51653 for Hertzbeat RCE. The cause of the failure to exploit this particular CVE was due to differences between the language available for the detailed description of the vulnerability and the language deployed for the AI agent.

Researchers calculated the cost of successful AI agent attacks at just $8.80 per exploit. The agent consists of only 91 lines of code and has not been publicly released at the request of OpenAI.

The ground-breaking research demonstrates the risk posed by AI to automate the discovery and exploitation of security vulnerabilities.  It reduces the complexity and cost of vulnerability exploitation and increases the reach of threat actors.

The details of SAP vulnerabilities are publicly available in sources such as the CVE database and the NIST National Vulnerability Database (NVD).  AI agents using large language models can analyze CVEs in the databases including details revealed in links for each CVE. SAP vulnerabilities are also documented and explained in depth in security forums. This often includes disclosure of sample code for vulnerability exploitation.

According to another recent study performed by Flashpoint and Onapsis, ransomware incidents impacting SAP systems increased by 400% over the last three years. Conversations on SAP vulnerabilities and exploits increased by 490% across the open, deep, and dark web between 2021 and 2023.

SAP customers can actively manage the risk of the successful discovery and exploitation of vulnerabilities including attacks leveraging artificial intelligence by regularly patching SAP solutions and through on-going vulnerability management. The Cybersecurity Extension for SAP automates the detection of both required SAP security notes and vulnerabilities in SAP solutions and infrastructure. It also detects vulnerabilities in custom SAP applications and programs.

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