With an estimated 180 million global users, security professionals cannot afford to ignore ChatGPT. Or rather, the risks associated with ChatGPT. Whether it’s the company’s workforce accidentally pasting sensitive data, attackers leveraging ChatGPT to target the workforce with phishing emails, or ChatGPT being breached and user information being exposed – there are multiple risks to organizational data and systems that need to be taken into consideration.
In this guide, we dive deep into the various risks all organizations potentially face from ChatGPT’s security vulnerabilities. But we’re not here to scare you. This guide offers practices and solutions for minimizing those risks while letting employees enjoy the productivity benefits of generative AI. To make the most out of this guide, we recommend reading through the risks and best practices, comparing them to your stack and overall plan, highlighting any gaps that should be addressed, and working towards closing those holes.
ChatGPT Security refers to all the security measures and protocols implemented to ensure safety and security related to ChatGPT use. There are three main types of risks and ChatGPT threats that fall under this definition. They are:
- The risk to the organization associated with employees using ChatGPT.
- The risk to the organization associated with attackers using ChatGPT.
- The risk of ChatGPT being attacked.
Let’s dive into each one.
1. Securing Organizations From Employee Misuse
When employees interact with ChatGPT, they might unintentionally type or paste sensitive or proprietary company information into the application. This could include source code, customer data, IP, PII, business plans, and more. This creates a data leakage risk, as the input data can potentially be stored or processed in ways that are not fully under the company’s control.
For one, this data could be stored by OpenAI or used for model retraining, which means adversaries or competitors could gain access to it through prompts of their own. In other cases, if attackers breach OpenAI, they might gain access to this data.
Unauthorized access to sensitive data could have financial, legal and business implications for the organization. Attackers can exploit the data for ransomware, phishing, identity theft, selling of IP and source code, and more. This puts the company’s reputation at risk, could result in fines and other legal measures and might require significant resources for mitigating the attack or paying ransoms.
2. Securing Organizations From Attacker Misuse
Even organizations whose employees do not use ChatGPT are not exempt from its potential security impact on them. Attackers can use ChatGPT as their own productivity booster and use it to attack the organization. For example:
Social Engineering Attacks
ChatGPT can generate convincing and contextually relevant text, which can be exploited for phishing and other social engineering attacks. ChatGPT’s emails seem credible since they reduce grammar errors, support a wide range of languages and can be prompted to sound like a variety of personas, from IT professionals to CEOs to celebrities. This makes them more likely to trick the victims and help attackers gain the information or the foothold they need.
Malware Development and Ransomware
ChatGPT can suggest or refine code, which could potentially be used by attackers to develop malware. While ChatGPT itself doesn’t write malicious code, sophisticated prompts can be used to generate or debug code that can be used for malicious purposes, including for ransomware.
Attackers could use ChatGPT to automate and refine their information-gathering processes. They can obtain detailed, relevant information that might be useful in planning attacks, such as understanding security systems, coding practices, or network architectures.
3. Securing the ChatGPT Application
In ChatGPT we trust? Millions have turned to ChatGPT with their most important work tasks and personal considerations, sharing confidential data. But what happens if OpenAI security is compromised? Successfully breaching OpenAI through ChatGPT vulnerabilities could mean attackers access sensitive data processed by the AI system. This includes the prompts inputted by users, user data like email and billing information, and prompt metadata like the types and frequency of prompts. The result could be privacy violations, data breaches, or identity theft.
The use of ChatGPT extensions, which are add-ons or integrations that expand the capabilities of the ChatGPT, is also a ChatGPT security risk. Here are some of the key ones:
- Security Vulnerabilities – Extensions can introduce security weaknesses, especially if they are not developed or maintained with strict security standards. This can include introducing malicious code to the user’s browser, exfiltrating data, and more.
- Privacy Concerns – Extensions that handle or process user data can pose privacy risks, particularly if they do not comply with data protection laws or if they collect, store, or transmit data in insecure ways.
- Access to Identity Data – With malicious extensions, attackers can gain access to identity data – passwords, cookies, and MFA tokens. This enables them to breach the system and progress in it laterally.
We’ve reached our favorite part – what to do? There is a way to empower your workforce to leverage ChatGPT’s immense productivity potential while eliminating their ability to unintentionally expose sensitive data. Here’s how:
Develop Clear Usage Policies
Determine the data you’re most concerned with: source code, business plans, intellectual property, etc. Establish guidelines on how and when employees can use ChatGPT, emphasizing the types of information that should not be shared with the tool or should only be shared under strict conditions.
Conduct Training and Awareness Programs
Educate employees about the potential risks and limitations of using AI tools, including:
- Data security and the risk of sharing sensitive data
- The potential misuse of AI in cyber attacks
- How to recognize AI-generated phishing attempts or other malicious communications
Promote a culture where AI tools are used responsibly as a complement to human expertise, not a replacement.
Use an Enterprise Browser Extension
ChatGPT is accessed and consumed through the browser, as a web application or browser extension. Therefore, traditional endpoint or network security tools cannot be used to secure the organizations and prevent employees from pasting or typing sensitive data into GenAI applications.
But an enterprise browser extension can. By creating a dedicated ChatGPT policy, the browser can prevent the sharing of sensitive data through pop-up warnings or blocking use altogether. In extreme cases, the enterprise browser can be configured to disable ChatGPT and its extensions altogether.
Detect and Block Risky Extensions
Scan your workforce’s browsers to discover installed malicious ChatGPT extensions that should be removed. In addition, continuously analyze the behavior of existing browser extensions to prevent them from accessing sensitive browser data. Disable extensions’ ability to extract credentials or other sensitive data from your workforce’s browsers.
Fortify Your Security Controls
Given attackers’ ability to use ChatGPT to their advantage, make cybersecurity a higher priority. This includes:
- Fortifying controls against phishing, malware, injections, and ransomware
- Restricting access to your systems to prevent unauthorized use that could result from attackers’ ability to, like MFA
- Keeping your software patched and up-to-date
- Implementing endpoint security measures
- Ensuring password hygiene
- Continuously monitoring to detect suspicious behavior and make sure to develop and practice your incident response plans.
LayerX is an enterprise browser solution that protects organizations against web-borne threats and risks. LayerX has a unique solution to protect organizations against sensitive data exposure via ChatGPT and other generative AI tools, without disrupting the browser experience.
Users can map and define the data to protect, such as source code or intellectual property. When employees use ChatGPT, controls like pop-up warnings or blocking are enforced to ensure no secure data is exposed. LayerX ensures secure productivity and full utilization of ChatGPT’s potential without compromising data security.
For more details, click here.