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HomeTopics 1AI & CybersecurityBeware the AI Worm: Self-Propagating Malware Targets Generative AI Systems

Beware the AI Worm: Self-Propagating Malware Targets Generative AI Systems


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The world of artificial intelligence (AI) is not immune to cyber threats. Researchers have recently discovered a novel and concerning attack method: a self-propagating worm specifically designed to target generative AI (GenAI) systems.

This article explores the details of this “AI worm,” its potential impact, and crucial steps to mitigate the risk.

Understanding the AI Worm:

Dubbed “Morris II,” this worm leverages a technique known as “adversarial self-replication prompts.” These prompts, when fed into a GenAI system, trick the system into not only generating the desired output but also replicating the malicious prompt itself. With each iteration, the worm propagates further, potentially infecting and disrupting multiple GenAI systems.

Potential Impact of an AI Worm:

A successful AI worm attack could have several detrimental consequences:

  • Data Poisoning: The worm could manipulate generated outputs, potentially leading to the dissemination of misleading or harmful information.
  • Disruption of Services: Widespread infection could disrupt the functionality of GenAI-powered applications used in various sectors, impacting customer service, product development, and creative processes.
  • Reputational Damage: Organizations relying on GenAI systems could face reputational damage if infected by the worm, leading to a loss of trust and potential financial losses.

10 Ways to Mitigate the Risk of AI-Based Attacks:

  1. Implement Input Validation: Employ robust input validation techniques to identify and filter out potentially malicious prompts before feeding them into GenAI systems.
  2. Monitor System Activity: Continuously monitor GenAI systems for unusual activity that might indicate infection by an AI worm.
  3. Train AI Models on Clean Data: Train GenAI models on high-quality, well-curated datasets to improve their ability to identify and resist manipulation attempts.
  4. Implement Anomaly Detection Systems: Utilize anomaly detection systems specifically designed to identify deviations from normal GenAI behavior, potentially signaling an ongoing attack.
  5. Educate Users: Train users on safe and responsible interaction with GenAI systems to avoid inadvertently introducing vulnerabilities.
  6. Segment Networks: Implement network segmentation to isolate GenAI systems and limit the potential spread of an AI worm within the network.
  7. Maintain Backups: Regularly back up data and maintain a comprehensive disaster recovery plan to facilitate swift restoration in case of an attack.
  8. Stay Updated: Remain informed about evolving threats and best practices for securing GenAI systems by following reputable sources.
  9. Collaborate with Security Researchers: Foster collaboration between AI developers, security researchers, and industry stakeholders to collectively address emerging AI-based threats.
  10. Promote Responsible AI Development: Advocate for responsible AI development practices that prioritize security, transparency, and ethical considerations throughout the AI lifecycle.


The emergence of the “Morris II” AI worm serves as a stark reminder of the evolving cybersecurity landscape and the need to adapt our security measures to address novel threats targeting emerging technologies like AI. By implementing the recommended actions and fostering a culture of security awareness, developers, organizations, and users can work together to protect GenAI systems from malicious actors and ensure the responsible and secure development and deployment of AI technologies.

Ouaissou DEMBELE
Ouaissou DEMBELEhttps://cybercory.com
Ouaissou DEMBELE is an accomplished cybersecurity professional and the Editor-In-Chief of cybercory.com. He has over 10 years of experience in the field, with a particular focus on Ethical Hacking, Data Security & GRC. Currently, Ouaissou serves as the Co-founder & Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Saintynet, a leading provider of IT solutions and services. In this role, he is responsible for managing the company's cybersecurity strategy, ensuring compliance with relevant regulations, and identifying and mitigating potential threats, as well as helping the company customers for better & long term cybersecurity strategy. Prior to his work at Saintynet, Ouaissou held various positions in the IT industry, including as a consultant. He has also served as a speaker and trainer at industry conferences and events, sharing his expertise and insights with fellow professionals. Ouaissou holds a number of certifications in cybersecurity, including the Cisco Certified Network Professional - Security (CCNP Security) and the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), ITIL. With his wealth of experience and knowledge, Ouaissou is a valuable member of the cybercory team and a trusted advisor to clients seeking to enhance their cybersecurity posture.


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