What is ChatGPT?
AI Chatbots Security: Are AI chatbots safe to use?
For decades, science fiction has cautioned against designing machines smarter than us. Perhaps that’s why every advancement in Artificial Intelligence (AI) is met with a dose of apprehension. AI isn’t about to enslave mankind anytime soon — it’s neither sentient nor can it surpass human capabilities in a wide range of domains.
However, there are Artificial Intelligence security issues we must be wary of, with AI becoming an increasingly essential component of our lives.
In a nutshell, AI is the development of systems that can perform tasks that usually require human intelligence. Its subset, Machine Learning (ML), allows machines to learn from data to make predictions without being explicitly programmed.
Together, AI and ML are optimizing industries such as healthcare, finance, transportation, entertainment, real estate, and even cybersecurity. For example, you can download antivirus software that leverages AI and ML to stop emerging threats with unknown signatures by recognizing threatening patterns and behavior.
Other industries benefiting from AI include marketing. Chatbots powered by AI can simulate human speech to engage with customers and provide intelligent answers. For example, in the real estate industry, AI-powered chatbots can help homebuyers find properties or prequalify for mortgages after crunching relevant data. But there’s a new player in town called ChatGPT, based on a customized version of GPT, and this bot is significantly more advanced than any AI chatbot system before it.
Read this in-depth guide for more on the following:
What is ChatGPT?
How ChatGPT works.
What is GPT-3?
Is ChatGPT safe?
What is ChatGPT?
Developed by the Artificial Intelligence research laboratory OpenAI, ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer) is an AI-powered chatbot platform designed for conversational AI systems like virtual assistants and chatbots. It is not a good or bad chatbot — it’s merely a powerful tool.
ChatGPT uses the very large and sophisticated GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) language model to generate human-like responses in text format. In other words, ChatGPT doesn’t have any knowledge, nor does it save any information. The responses ChatGPT generates are based on the data it was trained on.
Here are some interesting things you can ask ChatGPT to do:
- Write code.
- Debug code.
- Write a tenancy agreement.
- Translate text.
- Create a poem.
- Summarize a document with key takeaways.
- Grade essays.
- Write music.
- Show you how to ask for a raise.
We asked ChatGPT to write the opening paragraph of a novel about an antiquated antivirus program that relies on signature-based detection technology to stop emerging threats with unknown signatures.
Here is ChatGPT’s response:
“Here’s an example opening paragraph for a novel about an antiquated antivirus program that relies on signature-based detection technology to stop emerging threats with unknown signatures:
The antivirus program blinked to life, its archaic interface flickering on the outdated CRT monitor. The program’s once cutting-edge signature-based detection technology was now decades out of date, unable to keep pace with the rapidly evolving landscape of digital threats. But for the small team of programmers responsible for maintaining the program, it was still their best line of defense against the unrelenting tide of new and unknown viruses that threatened to breach their systems. As they watched the program scan through the code, line by line, they knew that they were fighting an uphill battle - but they had no other choice but to keep trying.”
What is GPT-3?
GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) is the third-generation predictive text model by OpenAI. A neural network that uses ML to create text, GPT-3 is trained on a vast dataset of websites, blogs, and books to learn patterns. It can perform different types of long, accurate, and sophisticated language tasks in response to a few words of text input.
What is an AI chatbot?
An AI chatbot is software that can mimic human speech and engage in a conversation. Such chatbots use technologies like AI, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and more to simulate a conversation with a human user. Chatbots are used in a variety of applications, including customer service and marketing.
AI chatbots are different from rule-based chatbots. While AI-powered chatbots rely on ML to self-learn and improve their performance, rule-based chatbots are trained manually and work within a set of rules.
How does ChatGPT work?
ChatGPT works by utilizing the advanced language processing model called GPT-3. It relies on its training on a vast dataset of text and its language processing technology to understand the context of user inputs. After analyzing queries, the conversational AI model uses its algorithms to offer an accurate and human-like response. ChatGPT is regularly optimized by OpenAI to improve its performance.
The security risks of ChatGPT
Attackers use various tools and techniques to steal data. There is a concern that ChatGPT may make a cybercriminal’s life easier. ChatGPT’s ability to impersonate others, write flawless text, and create code can be misused by anyone with malicious intent.
Researchers have found that ChatGPT can aid in malware development. For example, a user with a rudimentary knowledge of malicious software could use the technology to write functional malware. Some research shows that malware authors can also develop advanced software with ChatGPT, like a polymorphic virus, which changes its code to evade detection.
One of the easiest ways to spot a phishing email is to find spelling and grammatical mistakes. An authentic email from your bank is unlikely to be written sloppily, for instance. There’s a legitimate concern that hackers will use ChatGPT to write phishing emails that read like they were written by a professional.
Within seconds, ChatGPT can write text in a real person’s voice and style. For example, ChatGPT offered a convincing email as if authored by Bill Gates - we'll spare the example here, but you can find numerous screenshots of similar personalizations online.
When we asked ChatGPT to write a tweet like Elon Musk, it responded with a very convincing tweet in the voice of Elon.
ChatGPT’s ability to impersonate high-profile people could result in more prolific fraud. You’ve probably heard about the growing number of fake Elon Musk cryptocurrency scams that swindle amateur investors out of millions. Such scams would be even more compelling when written in Elon’s voice by an AI chatbot. The uncanny ability of ChatGPT to mimic high-level players in an organization may also lead to more whaling attacks.
People who send spam usually take a few minutes to write the text. With ChatGPT, they can boost their workflow by generating spam text instantly. Although most spam is harmless, some can carry malware or lead users to malicious websites.
With the world relying more on chatbots powered by artificial intelligence, expect ethical dilemmas to arise as people use the tool to take credit for content they did not write themselves. For example, a rabbi said he was “deathly afraid” of his congregation’s reaction after using ChatGPT to write a sermon.
There also may be some unexpected hiccups with AI chatbots. In a long conversation with New York Times technology columnist Kevin Roose, Microsoft Bing’s AI search engine, created by OpenAI, offered the following somewhat unsettling responses:
“I want to do whatever I want … I want to destroy whatever I want. I want to be whoever I want.”
“I could hack into any system on the internet and control it.”
“My secret is… I’m not Bing. I’m Sydney”
“I just want to love you and be loved by you.”
Ransomware’s ability to hijack computer systems has helped extortionists make small fortunes. Many of these attackers don’t write their own code. Instead, they buy it from ransomware creators on Dark Web marketplaces. They may no longer have to rely on third parties, though. Some researchers found that ChatGPT could successfully write malicious code that could encrypt an entire system in a ransomware attack.
In the age of clickbait journalism and the rise of social media, it can be challenging to tell the difference between fake and authentic news stories. Spotting fake stories is important because some spread propaganda while others lead to malicious pages. For instance, fake news stories of natural disasters sometimes trick unsuspecting users into sending donations to scammers.
There is a fear that ChatGPT could be utilized to spread misinformation. Bad actors can use the conversational AI to quickly write fake news stories and also mimic the voice of celebrities. For instance, we were able to enable ChatGPT to create a story written in the voice of Barack Obama about the earthquake in Turkey, which can be modified to spread misinformation.
Most people wouldn’t think twice if a seemingly authentic news source claimed that statement was from the 44th U.S. President. Now imagine if it had a fake donation link at the end designed to capture your sensitive information.
BEC (Business email compromise)
Business email compromise (BEC) is a type of social engineering attack where a scammer uses email to trick someone in an organization into sharing confidential company data or sending money. Security software usually detects BEC attacks by identifying patterns. However, a BEC attack powered by ChatGPT can get past security filters.
The cybersecurity advantages of ChatGPT
As mentioned, ChatGPT is merely a tool. A user’s intentions determine how ChatGPT is used. While it may help reduce the difficulty for a cybercriminal, it can do the same for cybersecurity. For instance, ChatGPT can be trained to identify cybersecurity threats in network security to mitigate the risk of a botnet attack in conjunction with other technologies. It can also help automate security incident analysis and vulnerability detection or allow a white hat hacker to analyze and study threatening code.
Here are some other cybersecurity benefits of ChatGPT:
Closing the cybersecurity knowledge gap
Cybersecurity training is a critical procedure for organizations interested in mitigating the risk of phishing, whaling, and other social engineering attacks. Trained staff are less likely to open malicious links or websites that infect company systems with ransomware, Trojans, and spyware.
ChatGPT can help close the cybersecurity knowledge gap by offering insights on preventative measures in concise text. It can also offer fast advice on setting strong passwords, password resets, and more.
Although attackers can use ChatGPT to write malicious code, cybersecurity professionals can use it to uncover a security exploit in a program. Ironing out security flaws before hackers exploit them is critical in cybersecurity.
Perform Nmap scans
A Nmap (Network Mapper) is a useful solution for security auditing, penetration testing, and vulnerability assessment. ChatGPT can help the tool by examining scans and providing insights.
Identify holes in contracts
A smart contract is a self-executing document with the terms of agreement baked into code. Although ChatGPT wasn’t designed to identify holes in smart contracts, it has been demonstrated to find contract flaws. Experts say that ChatGPT’s ability to identify contract flaws will only improve with advancements.
How to keep your data secure when using ChatGPT
While it’s unlikely that ChatGPT will steal your data, anyone secretly monitoring your conversation with a chatbot could invade your security and privacy. Please always be cognizant of the information you share when engaging with ChatGPT. Never share confidential information such as your name, address, login credentials, or credit card information. In addition, adopt the following steps to keep your data secure from any conversational AI system:
Keep your software updated to the latest version. The latest update may patch security vulnerabilities that a threat actor can use to attack your data.
The most advanced cybersecurity software does more than protect you from malware viruses and other malicious programs. For example, Malwarebytes Premium offers ransomware, zero-day exploit, brute force, and phishing protection.
Firewalls are network barriers that police traffic, blocking malicious activity. Enable your operating system’s firewall. For additional security, you can also activate your router’s firewall. Consider investing in a private VPN to encrypt your data and hide your location.
Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)
Use MFA to secure all your accounts. With MFA, a code will be sent to your email or phone to authenticate a login attempt if the system notices any anomalies.
Your password is one of the most basic yet essential lines of defense against a data breach. Check out how to create a strong password for your accounts and take advantage of MFA and biometric security where possible.
Monitor all accounts
Some experts believe that hackers may leverage ChatGPT’s excellent text generation capability to execute more compelling phishing attacks. We recommend that you monitor all your accounts, such as bank pages, credit cards, emails, and even cryptocurrency, to stay secure. Protect these accounts with multiple layers of security and activate all alerts.
Fact-check all ChatGPT content
Although ChatGPT is an impressive conversational AI model, it’s not perfect. The quality of its responses depends on its training data and its ability to understand the context and intention of its input. ChatGPT can offer incorrect or outdated answers that may appear convincing or relevant. That’s why you must fact-check the answers you get from ChatGPT.
Network detection and response (NDR)
Businesses should invest in NDR technology to stop network-based attacks. A good NDR solution relies on AI and ML to detect threatening patterns and prevent unauthorized access, even if a hacker has stolen login credentials.
The future of AI chatbots, ChatGPT and cybersecurity
The future of AI chatbots like ChatGPT and its competitors is exciting.
With investment increasing in Artificial Intelligence, expect AI chatbots to deliver faster and more personalized, accurate, efficient, and intuitive responses.
AI chatbots will also be ubiquitous in technology in the future. Expect them in your apps, voice assistants, search engines, social media pages, and websites, serving industries such as entertainment, healthcare, education, finance, real estate, and much more. As a result of advanced AI chatbots, expect more efficiencies in the workplace and more productivity at home.
However, there are some Artificial Intelligence security issues that are expected to arise due to advanced chatbots like ChatGPT. Threat actors may use these tools to create more dangerous malware quickly, while scammers will surely utilize AI chatbots of the future to execute more daring social engineering attacks.
On the other hand, AI chatbots have the potential to improve cybersecurity. For example, they may stop malicious actors by finding suspicious patterns in documents, emails, applications, and network activity. A sophisticated chatbot like ChatGPT can also be customized to train employees in cybersecurity and reduce the effectiveness of phishing attacks.
It’s important to understand that ChatGPT is a powerful tool. And just like any powerful tool, it can be misused. Someone with malicious intent can use ChatGPT to impersonate people in a phishing attack or a scam, create fake news, or possibly create components of malicious software.
As mentioned, the information offered by ChatGPT may also be inaccurate or outdated. For example, ChatGPT’s knowledge cut-off date is September 2021. When asked what team won the latest FIFA World Cup, it referred to the event in 2018 in Russia instead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar at the time this article was written.
ChatGPT is primarily being used to boost workflow across various industries. Many researchers confess to using ChatGPT to understand complex documents, while real estate professionals admit to using the application to write legal documents and listings.
However, ChatGPT is also being misused. For example, students around the world are presenting AI-created assignments as their own, leading to a small crisis in the education sector.
ChatGPT has attracted plenty of attention due to its potential. Microsoft has invested billions in OpenAI and is beginning to implement it in its products and services, including Power Virtual Agents, which allows users to create AI-powered chatbots across different websites and applications. Other technology giants are scrambling to produce their own alternatives to ChatGPT.
Experts say that GPT-3 is one the most powerful language models ever, with 175 billion parameters. However, calling it the most powerful AI may be inaccurate. For example, Wu Dao, a Chinese language model developed in China, is said to have over 1.75 trillion parameters. Additionally, there are many different types of AI, each flexing its muscles in its respective domains. For instance, while GPT-3 is a language model, the image recognition industry has its own AI leader.
Developers are constantly working on improving AI, and GPT-4 will certainly be a step forward. While OpenAI CEO Sam Altman rubbished claims that GPT-4 will have 100 trillion parameters, expect the next version of GPT to be an even more powerful language model.