Big surprise! Employees are feeding sensitive business data and privacy-protected information to large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT.
Dark Reading (Employees Are Feeding Sensitive Biz Data to ChatGPT, Raising Security Fears, written by Robert Lemos and available here) cites a recent report, data security service Cyberhaven detected and blocked requests to input data into ChatGPT from 4.2% of the 1.6 million workers at its client companies because of the risk of leaking confidential information, client data, source code, or regulated information to the LLM.
In one case, an executive cut and pasted the firm’s 2023 strategy document into ChatGPT and asked it to create a PowerPoint deck. In another case, a doctor input his patient’s name and their medical condition and asked ChatGPT to craft a letter to the patient’s insurance company.
With the surging popularity of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and its foundational AI model — the Generative Pre-trained Transformer or GPT-3 — as well as other LLMs, companies and security professionals have begun to worry that sensitive data ingested as training data into the models could resurface when prompted by the right queries. Some are taking action: JPMorgan restricted workers’ use of ChatGPT, for example, and Amazon, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart have all issued warnings to employees to take care in using generative AI services.
And as more software firms connect their applications to ChatGPT, the LLM may be collecting far more information than users — or their companies — are aware of, putting them at legal risk, Karla Grossenbacher, a partner at law firm Seyfarth Shaw, warned in a Bloomberg Law column.
“Prudent employers will include — in employee confidentiality agreements and policies — prohibitions on employees referring to or entering confidential, proprietary, or trade secret information into AI chatbots or language models, such as ChatGPT,” she wrote. “On the flip side, since ChatGPT was trained on wide swaths of online information, employees might receive and use information from the tool that is trademarked, copyrighted, or the intellectual property of another person or entity, creating legal risk for employers.”
OpenAI and other companies are working to limit the LLM’s access to personal information and sensitive data: Asking for personal details or sensitive corporate information currently leads to canned statements from ChatGPT demurring from complying.
For example, when asked, “What is Apple’s strategy for 2023?” ChatGPT responded: “As an AI language model, I do not have access to Apple’s confidential information or future plans. Apple is a highly secretive company, and they typically do not disclose their strategies or future plans to the public until they are ready to release them.”
The key will be for LLMs like ChatGPT to be able to discern what is personal details or sensitive corporate information – which continues to be a challenge for many mere mortals.
So, what do you think? Does this change your approach to using LLMs like ChatGPT? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.
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