Generative AI tools like ChatGPT are taking the world by storm. Like any new technology, CISOs need to find a way to embrace the opportunities while protecting the organization from generative AI and ChatGPT risks. Let’s explore the opportunities and security best practices in this article.

What is Generative AI?

Generative AI is a type of AI that is focused on creating and generating new content with ML techniques. This could include images, text, music, or videos. Unlike most AI approaches that  recognize patterns or make predictions based on existing data, generative AI aims to produce original and creative output.

Generative AI models are based on LLMs (Large Language Models), which means they are trained on large datasets. They learn the underlying patterns and structures present in the data and turn them into probability models. Then, when given a “prompt” they use the learned knowledge to generate new content that is similar to the training data, but not an exact copy. As a result, generative AI models can design realistic images, write coherent stories or poems, compose music, and even produce realistic and human-like conversations.

One of the common frameworks used for generative AI is called GAN – Generative Adversarial Network. GANs consist of two neural networks: a generator network and a discriminator network. The generator network generates new content, while the discriminator network evaluates the generated content and tries to distinguish it from real data. The two networks are trained together in a competitive process in which the generator aims to produce increasingly realistic content that fools the discriminator, and the discriminator strives to become better at identifying generated content. This adversarial training leads to high-quality and diverse content being created.

Generative AI tools have multiple use cases, including art, design, entertainment, and even medicine. However, generative AI also raises ethical considerations, such as the potential for generating fake content, misuse of the technology, bias, and cybersecurity risks.

ChatGPT is an extremely popular generative AI chatbot that was released in November 2022, which brought widespread attention to the concept and capabilities of generative AI tools.

ChatGPT Cyber security risks

What Are The Risks Of Generative AI?

Generative AI has several associated risks that security teams need to be aware of, like privacy concerns and phishing. The main security risks include:

Privacy Concerns

Generative AI models are trained on large amounts of data, which might include user-generated content. If it is not properly anonymized, this data could be exposed during the training process and in the content development process, resulting in data breaches. Such breaches might be accidental, i.e information is provided without the user intending for it to be publicly shared, or intentionally, through inference attacks, in a malicious attempt to expose sensitive information. 

Just recently, Samsung employees pasted sensitive data into ChatGPT, including confidential source code and private meeting notes. That data is now used for ChatGPT training and might be used in the answers ChatGPT provides. 

Phishing Emails and Malware

Generative AI can be used by attackers to generate convincing and deceptive content, including phishing emails, phishing websites, or phishing messages, in multiple languages. It can also be used for impersonating trusted entities and persons. These can increase the success rate of phishing attacks and lead to compromised personal information or credentials.

In addition, generative AI can be used to generate malicious code or malware variants. Such AI-powered malware can adapt and evolve based on interactions with the target system, enhancing their ability to bypass defenses and attack systems while making it harder for security defenses to mitigate them.

Access Management

Attackers can use generative AI to simulate or generate realistic access credentials, such as usernames and passwords. These can be used for password guessing, credential stuffing and brute force attacks, enabling unauthorized access to systems, accounts, or sensitive data. In addition, generative AI can create fraudulent accounts or profiles, which can be used to bypass verification processes and systems and for accessing resources.

Insider Threats

Generative AI tools can be maliciously misused by individuals within the organization for unauthorized activities. For example, an employee might generate fraudulent documents or manipulate data, leading to potential fraud, data tampering, or intellectual property theft. Employees might also unintentionally leak data to these tools, resulting in data breaches.

Increased Attack Surface

Businesses that integrate generative AI tools into their stack potentially introduce new vulnerabilities. These tools may interact with systems and APIs, creating additional entry points for attackers to exploit.

Ways Businesses Can Mitigate Generative AI and ChatGPT Security Risks

Generative AI poses opportunities and security risks. Businesses can take the following measures to ensure the can enjoy the productivity benefits and ChatGPT security without being exposed to the risks:

Risk Assessment

Start out by mapping the potential security risks associated with the use of generative AI tools in your business. Identify the areas in which generative AI introduces security vulnerabilities or potential misuse. For example, you might highlight the engineering organization as a group at risk to leak sensitive code. Or, you might identify ChatGPT-like browser extensions as a risk and require their disablement.

Access Control, Authentication and Authorization

Implement strong access controls and verification mechanisms to govern access to your systems as well as the actions your employees can perform in generative AI tools. For example, a browser security platform can prevent your employees from pasting sensitive code in tools like ChatGPT.

Regular Software Updates and Patching

Stay up to date with the latest releases and security patches for your systems. Apply updates promptly to address any known vulnerabilities and protect against emerging threats. By doing so, you will enhance your security posture and protect against all threats, including the ones posed by attackers who use generative AI.

Monitoring and Anomaly Detection

Deploy monitoring solutions to detect and respond to potential security incidents or unusual activities related to generative AI tools. Implement real-time anomaly detection mechanisms to identify suspicious behavior, such as unauthorized access attempts or abnormal data patterns.

User Education and Awareness

Train employees and users about the risks associated with generative AI, including phishing, social engineering, and other security threats. Provide guidelines on how to identify and respond to potential attacks or suspicious activities. Regularly reinforce security awareness through training programs and awareness campaigns.

To complement these trainings, a browser security platform can assist by requiring user consent or justification to use a generative AI tool.

Vendor Security Assessment

If you are procuring generative AI tools from third-party vendors, conduct a thorough security assessment of their offerings. Evaluate their security practices, data handling procedures, and adherence to industry standards. Ensure that the vendors prioritize security and have a robust security framework in place.

Incident Response and Recovery

Develop an incident response plan specifically addressing generative AI-related security incidents. Establish clear procedures for detecting, containing, and recovering from security breaches or attacks. Regularly test and update the incident response plan to adapt to evolving threats.

Collaboration with Security Experts

Seek guidance from security professionals or consultants who specialize in AI and machine learning security. They can help you identify potential risks, implement best practices, and ensure that your generative AI systems are adequately secured.

How LayerX Can Prevent Data Leakage on ChatGPT and Other Generative AI Platforms

LayerX’s Browser Security Platform mitigates the exposure risk of organizational data, like customer data and intellectual property, posed by ChatGPT and other generative Al platforms. This is supported by enabling policy configuration to prevent pasting of text strings, providing granular visibility into every user activity on their browser, detecting and disabling ChatGPT-like browser extensions, requiring user consent or justification to use a generative AI tool, and enforces securing data usage across all of your SaaS apps. Enjoy the productivity enabled by generative AI tools without the risk.