We Asked ChatGPT To Name Its Cybersecurity Risks. Here Are the Answers

6 minute read

ChatGPT: you’ve heard it in the news, in the latest product releases from all types of technology companies, and probably around the dinner table in your own homes. In the past few months, we’ve gone from bewilderment (bordering on fear) to integrating ChatGPT’s power into existing technologies, to evaluating the security implications of the world’s latest AI fad. With news of a data breach and questions around privacy, it has never been more important to discuss the potential cybersecurity risks of ChatGPT and other Generative AI tools. 

And who better to discuss those risks with than ChatGPT itself. So we asked. In this article, we’ll share ChatGPT’s own answers to potential risks and steps individuals can take to protect themselves while using ChatGPT. We’ll also offer some tips from the ZeroFox perspective as we embark on our own generative AI path to optimize intelligence analyst workflows with the ability to analyze and contextualize malicious content online.

Hi ChatGPT. I’m writing a blog on the risks of your tool, so tell me: What are the potential cybersecurity risks of ChatGPT?

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, ChatGPT can potentially be used by threat actors in a variety of ways to carry out malicious activities. Here are some examples:

  1. Data privacy: Since ChatGPT is an AI language model, it has access to a vast amount of data that it uses to learn and generate responses. There is a risk that this data could be accessed by unauthorized users or used for malicious purposes, which could compromise the privacy of individuals.
  2. Social engineering: ChatGPT could be used to carry out social engineering attacks by creating more convincing impersonations of individuals or organizations. By analyzing patterns of speech and behavior, attackers could create a more believable persona to trick users into giving up sensitive information.
  3. Phishing scams: Threat actors could use ChatGPT to create more convincing phishing emails and messages that appear to be from trusted sources. By training the model on social engineering techniques and common responses, attackers could increase the likelihood that their messages will be successful in tricking users into sharing sensitive information.
  4. Spamming: ChatGPT can also be used to generate automated spam messages that could be sent en masse to a large number of people. These spam messages could contain malicious links or attachments that, when clicked, could lead to the installation of malware or ransomware on the user’s device.
  5. Generating malicious content: Threat actors could use ChatGPT to create and disseminate fake news, propaganda, or other types of malicious content. By training the model on specific topics or using it to generate content that aligns with their agenda, attackers could spread misinformation and sow discord.
  6. Malware and viruses: Hackers could potentially use ChatGPT as a vector to deliver malware or viruses to unsuspecting users. They could use the model’s response generation capabilities to craft convincing messages that contain links to malicious websites or downloads.
  7. Impersonation attacks: ChatGPT could be used to generate fake messages that impersonate legitimate entities or individuals, such as a bank or a government agency. These messages could be used to deceive people into sharing sensitive information or taking harmful actions.
  8. Bias and discrimination: AI models like ChatGPT have been known to amplify existing biases and discrimination in the data they are trained on. This could result in harmful or discriminatory responses being generated, which could have negative consequences for individuals or groups.
  9. Adversarial attacks: Adversarial attacks involve manipulating the input to an AI model in order to cause it to generate incorrect or harmful outputs. This could be used to trick ChatGPT into generating false or malicious responses.

It is important to note that while ChatGPT can be used by threat actors for malicious purposes, it can also be used by security researchers and defenders to identify and mitigate potential attacks. As with any technology, the impact of ChatGPT will depend on the intentions of those who use it. While there are potential risks associated with ChatGPT, these risks can be minimized through proper security measures and responsible use.

Thank you. What are some of the security measures we should put in place to reduce cybersecurity risks of ChatGPT?

ChatGPT: Sure, here are some security measures and responsible use practices that can help mitigate the potential cybersecurity risks of ChatGPT:

  1. Encryption: Encryption can be used to protect the privacy of the data that ChatGPT uses to learn and generate responses. By encrypting the data, it becomes much harder for unauthorized users to access or steal it.
  2. Access control: Access control measures should be put in place to ensure that only authorized individuals or systems can access ChatGPT. This could involve setting up firewalls or requiring users to authenticate themselves before accessing the model.
  3. Regular auditing: Regular auditing can help identify potential vulnerabilities or threats to ChatGPT’s security. This could involve monitoring access logs or analyzing the model’s response patterns to detect unusual activity.
  4. Responsible data handling: It’s important to handle the data that ChatGPT uses responsibly, to avoid inadvertently exposing sensitive information or contributing to bias and discrimination. This could involve anonymizing the data or carefully curating the training data to minimize bias.
  5. Education and awareness: Education and awareness are crucial in ensuring responsible use of ChatGPT. Users should be aware of the potential risks associated with the model and should be trained to recognize and avoid potential threats or attacks.
  6. Regular updates and maintenance: Regular updates and maintenance are necessary to ensure that ChatGPT remains secure and up-to-date. This could involve applying security patches, upgrading software, or conducting regular vulnerability assessments.

By implementing these security measures and responsible use practices, organizations can help mitigate the potential cybersecurity risks of ChatGPT and ensure that it is used in a safe and secure manner.

Evaluating ChatGPT’s Responses

First, we have to give props to ChatGPT for being self-aware enough to admit its own security faults. ChatGPT does a pretty good job at understanding the risks facing users of its tool, from data privacy concerns, to social engineering and impersonations, to phishing and spamming. ChatGPT, and other generative AI products, offer threat actors a tool to quickly scale their already nefarious activity. In a similar way that ChatGPT could write answers for this blog much faster than I could type, threat actors can use the tool to generate malicious content quickly and at scale. ChatGPT’s ability to write in a humanistic way could open the door for more convincing phishing attacks, social engineering, and other malicious activity.

ChatGPT’s security recommendations are surprisingly robust, though they require a level of scrutiny that was not present when ChatGPT first became available. Users were eager to access the tool, even perhaps at times at the expense of data privacy concerns. Ensuring that no private information is added to ChatGPT is critical, and any data that is shared is encrypted. 

ZeroFox’s Take: Harnessing Generative AI to Stay Ahead of the Threat Actor

Recent cutting-edge advancements in AI, including the release of GPT 3.5, followed by GPT 4.0, are part of a larger, fast-paced AI revolution poised to change how humans and technology interact. As companies embrace these advancements to streamline and automate certain aspects of their business, threat actors are also embracing generative AI capabilities for more sophisticated phishing and fraud, social engineering, spam, and the production of malicious content. 

ZeroFox’s adaptation of generative AI, FoxGPT, accelerates the analysis and summarization of intelligence across large datasets, allowing the identification of malicious content, phishing attacks, and potential account takeovers. FoxGPT is a significant advancement for ZeroFox, enabling it to provide even more powerful external cybersecurity platform capabilities. ZeroFox is committed to AI transparency, security, and privacy of information in order to give customers the confidence that their data is secure. Learn more in our latest press release.

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