From small businesses to large enterprises, organizations are finding ways to harness the power of AI-driven tools. With these tools, many SMEs are uncovering significant opportunities to drive innovation and efficiency. ChatGPT and other content generators are especially popular, given their versatility: businesses can use them to generate code, write content, create images, help with business planning, and more.
But just like any other emerging technology, AI isn’t all upsides. And while the downsides aren’t quite as catastrophic as popular sci-fi lore would have us believe, there are some disadvantages and potential dangers that come with AI-based content generation. It’s especially important to be aware of these risks as we explore AI tools in their early stages, where they change rapidly and often haven’t been fully explored or debugged yet.
This blog explores the key security concerns surrounding ChatGPT and similar tools, offering insights into how organizations can safeguard their digital environments as AI inevitably makes its way into them.
1. Malicious Use and Manipulation
Some AI tools, like ChatGPT, have safeguards in place that attempt to prevent malicious use of the tool. However, people have found ways around this with exploits that enable users to manipulate ChatGPT into generating dangerous, illegal, or potentially harmful content. We don’t condone them and won’t cite them here (for obvious reasons), but a motivated Google searcher could easily find some of them.
In addition, there are more malicious tools at play. Unlike ChatGPT, some AI tools were designed specifically for illicit purposes and have little to no safeguards in place. WormGPT is an example of one that’s growing in popularity. WormGPT is an AI-based content-generation tool that was designed without constraints so that people can use it to generate harmful content like malicious code and personalized phishing campaigns.
The full implications of this phenomenon remain to be seen. However, it’s important not to assume that an AI content generation tool is safe, even if it has safeguards in place that try to prevent it from delivering harmful content. Because AI-based tools are interactive and always learning and changing, new ways to maliciously manipulate the tool will likely continue to crop up.
2. Data Security and Privacy
Like any other tool or vendor, organizations should consider how AI-driven tools store and use their information before approving them for company use. AI tools can collect a significant amount of sensitive information — examples include:
- Account info. Users may put sensitive personal or company information in their account.
- User input. Content generation tools generally require an input or a prompt; the inputs themselves could include sensitive information. For example, imagine a user inputting employee headshots into a content editing tool, or a manager asking a content generation tool to craft a severance letter to an employee who has not been notified yet.
- AI-generated output. AI tools often generate content that ends up being used as part of the company’s voice, appearance, or product. This could include proprietary material like logos, images, code, and more.
Because AI tools can be privy to a large amount of sensitive data, it’s important to ensure you can trust the tools you and your team work with. Before you approve an AI tool for company use, make sure you understand:
- How the tool stores and protects data.
- Which data it stores.
- How it secures its software against attack.
3. Information Validity
AI-generated content isn’t guaranteed to be valid or up-to-date. For example, ChatGPT 3.5 (the latest free and unlocked version at the time of publishing this article) is trained on content up until September 2021. It may not be able to source or refer to information that came out after that date.
IT is one of those fields that changes quickly; two-year-old IT information can be pretty outdated. Think about the software you use for work and when it released its most recent updates — it was likely within the last two years.
This gap in knowledge means that ChatGPT may not be aware of important recent developments, which could affect its ability to generate helpful content. It could end up generating outdated information that is no longer correct or even harmful.
In addition, AI-based content-generation tools in general don’t validate that their content is true or accurate. In fact, ChatGPT has been known to cite fake sources for generated academic material. Inaccurate content, code, etc. could create system vulnerabilities or drive users to act on inaccurate information.
AI-generated content should never be taken as truth, but rather used as a prompt or jumpstart that still requires a human touch. As a rule of thumb, never ship code, publish content, or otherwise take AI-generated content as truth, without verifying it first.
Using Tools Wisely
These precautions don’t negate the power behind these AI-based content generation tools — they can still be highly impactful tools for driving efficiency, ideation, and productivity. However, it’s important to be aware of their possible security implications so you can take precautions that allow you and your organization to use these tools safely.
To learn more about securing the tools and technology in your SME, download the whitepaper, How to Secure Your SME With JumpCloud and CrowdStrike.