Articles & Thought Leadership | 7 min read

Is ChatGPT a Security Risk?


Lauryn Cash
Lauryn Cash

ChatGPT is changing the way we do business. But is ChatGPT a security risk? Discover how you can protect your company and sensitive data from GPT cyber threats.

Is ChatGPT a Security Risk?

Generative AI tools have become increasingly popular in various industries, including customer service, healthcare, and education. However, the question of whether they pose a cybersecurity risk continues to be a topic of discussion.

ChatGPT, a language model powered by OpenAI, has gained popularity for its advanced capabilities in generating human-like responses to user inquiries. The generative artificial intelligence tool reached 100 million users just two months after launching.

But is ChatGPT a security risk? How can your business use it without compromising your security posture? And how can you mitigate risks from bad actors who attempt to use ChatGPT to sharpen their cyberattacks?

In this article, we’ll dive into potential ChatGPT cybersecurity risks and best practices for preventing them from becoming threats to your business.

How Does ChatGPT Work?

As a conversational, large language model, ChatGPT interacts with users in a seemingly human way. After an initial query and answer, ChatGPT can provide contextually-relevant responses to follow-up questions. It can also acknowledge errors and dismiss inappropriate requests, making each interaction unique.

ChatGPT is an improved version of the GPT-3.5 AI model, which functions similarly to InstructGPT—OpenAI’s GPT-3 language model. These models are trained and built using Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF), which enables ChatGPT to complete natural language tasks.

However, despite its advanced capabilities, interactions with ChatGPT can escalate to threats.

Potential Security Risks of ChatGPT

Whether it’s a threat actor using ChatGPT to write malicious code or developing Business Email Compromise (BEC) or spear phishing attacks, the tech world is still learning about the full scope of security risks that come with the AI tool’s public availability.

Compromised Data Confidentiality

Anything users type into ChatGPT becomes public domain, meaning confidential information can be accessed online once entered in ChatGPT’s query box. The AI tool retains all the data users enter on OpenAI servers to iteratively train its machine learning (ML) model.

As such, employees who risk entering undisclosed company data into ChatGPT – such as customer information or confidential internal data – immediately subject your company to confidentiality risks. For example, when Samsung’s employees unknowingly entered sensitive proprietary data of source code and meeting notes into ChatGPT, they did not realize they were exposing intellectual property to competitors and third parties.

Advanced Phishing and Fraud Attacks

As cyber criminals crafted more sophisticated phishing, financial fraud, and Business Email Compromise attacks to target unsuspecting victims, organizations also boosted their security, implementing effective counter defenses like firewalls and anti-malware. These solutions are reasonably effective at detecting and mitigating traditional cyberattack attempts.

Now, cybercriminals can use ChatGPT to generate advanced phishing and fraud attacks (rather than malicious links or attachments) that bypass legacy cyber defenses that do not detect language as a signal. As a result, a cyber attacker can successfully infiltrate an organization’s IT infrastructure with emails that appear legitimate to unsuspecting victims.

Best Practices for Using ChatGPT Securely

ChatGPT can be a helpful tool for several applications, even with its associated cybersecurity risks. Let’s explore the best practices you can implement to protect your company’s sensitive information while using ChatGPT.

Ways to Use ChatGPT Securely

Using ChatGPT securely comes down to exercising caution about the data employees enter into the Generative AI tool. Besides confidentiality risks, data privacy and security are at risk if an employee knowingly (or unknowingly) enters sensitive data into ChatGPT.

For your company to minimize these risks, consider the following:

  • Implement security awareness training – Employees already use ChatGPT daily to streamline their work processes. Training your employees on the types of sensitive data at risk for data privacy or cybersecurity threats creates awareness of what they should or should not type into ChatGPT.
  • Use secure networks – Implement a company-wide policy that limits the use of ChatGPT on unsecured external networks, such as public WiFi. Malicious actors can use publicly available information generated by ChatGPT to gather intelligence or conduct social engineering attacks. For instance, an attacker could use data collected from a user's public ChatGPT interactions to create targeted phishing emails or scam messages that appear more convincing to the user.
  • Be cautious of links – ChatGPT may provide links to external websites or sources. Before clicking on any links, checking the URL and ensuring it is a legitimate and secure website is essential. Also, avoid downloading files or attachments from unknown sources which may contain malware or viruses.
  • Configure ChatGPT to maximize security – Beyond enacting best practices, companies can leverage ChatGPT to optimize their security processes, especially for threats like phishing, BEC, and financial fraud. For example, ChatGPT enables simulated phishing exercises to help train employees to spot and flag potential phishing emails.

Language-Based Data Security Starts With Armorblox

ChatGPT holds tremendous potential across various industry-use applications in today’s digital landscape. However, due to its ease of use, knowing the increased risks associated with such advanced technology is essential.

At Armorblox, we understand the importance of securing data and protecting businesses from risks like email data loss. That’s why Armorblox swiftly identifies, classifies, and remediates suspicious emails before they become high-impact threats.

Armorblox uses large language models, like GPT, AI, deep learning, and ML algorithms to protect against sophisticated and targeted email attacks and mitigate data loss across your company. This enables your team to focus on building your business confidently and with peace of mind.

See how Armorblox uses large language models, like GPT, to stop targeted email attacks and prevent organization-specific data loss.

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