Norton Genie Logo on tech concept background

Managing Director of Gen Mark Gorrie takes us through the surge in AI-supported cybercrime and how Norton is doing its part in keeping the internet safe with Norton Genie, a free AI-driven scam detection tool.

It’s hard enough keeping up with AI trends these days, with Google’s Gemini and OpenAI video tool Sora creating lifelike videos from text. There’s a lot going on, and it doesn’t make it any easier that cybercriminals are taking advantage of AI in phishing scams.

As the saying goes, sometimes it’s best to fight fire with fire. That’s where Norton Genie comes in.

First released in early access in August 2023 in NZ, the free AI detection tool is now widely available and has since been tested and trained by learning potential real-world scam messages. Even Emmy award winner Dan Levy is backing it up.

There’s a lot of phishing and cyber threats Norton Genie has to deal with, though. As our previous interview with Norton systems engineer Dean Williams points out, Norton blocks nine and a half million threats per day.

As Mark Gorrie, Managing Director of Gen behind Norton Genie, says, Genie has already scanned thousands of uploads and determined nearly 45% were scam attempts as of January 2024. With the AI continuing to learn and evolve to keep scam messages and dodgy websites at bay, it will going to get stronger.

We sat down with Gorrie to get a sneak peek behind the curtain on the creation of Norton Genie and how the AI detection tool will continue to combat AI-supported cybercrime.

Managing Director of Gen Mark Gorrie
Managing Director of Gen Mark Gorrie

Creating Norton Genie

Norton research shows that 1 in 5 people have been scammed in the past year. With AI now part of the cybercrime package, there’s been a surge in these online scams. As Gorrie explains, this was the reason Genie came to be.

“As scams become more sophisticated, it has made it more difficult for people to differentiate between what is real and what is fake. That’s where Norton Genie comes in, combatting online scams including AI scams with AI scam detection.”

Since scammers will use AI to create official-looking messages from trusted companies, the risk of general users being tricked into forking over their personal data and banking details has skyrocketed. Usually, tools to help identify and stop these message are in the form of a paid subscription, like Norton 360.

That isn’t the case for Norton Genie. We asked Gorrie about the reasoning behind making this AI scam detection tool free:

“Making Norton Genie a free product available for users across a wide range of platforms, such as Android, iOS and web browsers not only protects the general public from scams, but helps us train and develop Genie, which in turn, creates a safer digital environment for everyone. Norton Genie was partly trained and developed in New Zealand, and with the help of Kiwi users it can detect more locally targeted scams.”

Norton Genie AI Scam App on iPhone

Not only will Genie identify globally recognised scams, but it also lets users know the scams being spread in local areas. That’s a massive perk for locals, but how successful has it been so far?

“In January alone, Genie had scanned thousands of uploads and determined nearly 45% were scam attempts,” Gorrie explains. “People tell us that they’ve used Genie to help them determine whether an odd-looking email is a scam, and it’s really helped them save time and become more productive.”

Gorrie continues: “The fact that Genie takes the extra step to ask whether users want it to check links during the analysis process gives people the positive feedback that Genie is going back to the database and its training to find out more before making a determination.”

Always evolving

One of Norton Genie’s key traits is to detect malicious messages and links the user uploads via text or images. It’s an easy way to see if something is legit quickly, but are there more ways it can protect users?

“Genie is constantly evolving,” Gorrie states. “The more it’s used, the smarter it gets at detecting new scams. As our customers use Genie, we can evolve it around new scams we’re seeing and how they’re using it to improve Genie and keep even more people safe in the future.”

We asked if there could be a way Genie could automatically pick up on scam text or images on your device. Of course, Genie is only at its starting stages, but Gorrie points out that it may change according to what customers need.

“The goal is to be continuously updating Genie, while adhering to privacy by design/regulations around recording/information sharing. But most importantly, we want to learn from our customers to determine what features are most useful to them/where they’d like to see Genie go from here.”

Norton Genie main website

The use of AI in Genie wasn’t just to be part of the current trend; Genie was built from the ground up as an AI-driven scam detection tool, and it helps the tools successfully catch more scams in two ways.

“The first is that it enables a conversation so you can ask it questions, and it can provide answers,” Gorrie says. “The second has to do with the scam analysis itself. The message is being scanned for several factors, such as the intent of the message, in order to build a threat assessment and advise you whether the message is a scam.

“Scammers are adopting new technology such as AI, which is why we are using AI to help detect scams. Norton Genie takes only seconds to assess material users have uploaded, something that no human would be able to achieve.”

Finally, with AI aiding the cybersecurity company with Genie, we asked how this AI could be used more in other products from Norton: “The majority of our security products that help protect people from threats use AI in some form. For example, we use machine learning to help optimise malware detection.

“Our teams are constantly trying to develop new technology to empower and protect people online.”

The Norton Genie app is entirely free to use on iOS, Android, and browsers. You can check it out on the App StoreGoogle Play Store, and genie.norton.com. If you’re looking for more protection from malware, consider the best antivirus software in NZ.