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NITDA warns Nigerians over fake ChatGPT websites

Key highlights

  • NITDA says several websites are now posing as ChatGPT to steal people’s data.
  • Users are being lured from Facebook pages to fraudulent websites.
  • The agency warns Nigerians to be wary of clicking on links they are unsure of and download their apps from only trusted sources.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has warned Nigerians to be wary of fake and fraudulent ChatGPT websites being promoted on Facebook. The agency’s public advisory issued on Wednesday said the websites posing as OpenAI’s popular AI, ChatGPT are tricking users to download malicious files or software to their devices.

NITDA said the downloaded files could be used to steal sensitive data like call logs, contacts lists, SMS, and media files, among others. The agency, therefore, advised Nigerians to be cautious on the internet and mind the links they click.

How the phishing websites operate

Explaining the modus operandi of the fraudulent websites targeting the data of unsuspecting users, NITDA in the advisory said:

“Several phishing websites are being promoted through Facebook Messenger accounts to spread various types of malware. The illegitimate Facebook accounts pose as users to phishing websites that look like ChatGPT websites. These websites trick users into downloading malicious files or software onto their machines.

“When an unsuspecting user clicks on a link on the Facebook page, it directs the user to a phishing website that features much malware that is masquerading as ChatGPT and its variants. If a user downloads any of the proposed software that contains potentially harmful executable files, the user’s device is susceptible to theft of sensitive data like call logs, contacts lists, SMS, media files, and others.”

Preventive measures

Highlighting preventive measures to stay safe online, NITDA urged Nigerians to be wary of clicking on links they are unsure of. It also advised Nigerians to avoid downloading files or Apps from unknown websites.

In addition, NITDA advised Nigerians to install Anti-virus or Anti-malware on their devices while ensuring that their devices, applications, and operating systems are updated. It added that apps should be downloaded and installed only from Google Play Store, IOS App Store, or other trusted sources.

Fake ChatGPT on the rise

Since its first beta release in November 2022, there has been an increase in the number of websites and apps posing as ChatGPT. While the AI tool is currently available only as a web application on the OpenAI website, several apps claiming to be ChatGPT have flooded the Google Play Store and Apple iOS Store.

On the Google Play Store, a search for ChatGPT produces results of over 10 apps and most of them have recorded over 100,000 downloads each. Apple and Google are yet to take action on these apps as of publication time.

ChatGPT is an AI chatbot developed by OpenAI, a research firm based in San Francisco. It is a language learning model compatible with both supervised and reinforcement machine learning techniques. Unlike most other chatbots, ChatGPT relies on a vast and complex learning model. It can understand your messages’ meaning and context and generate human-like responses.

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