By Ahsan Siddiqui, Director of Product Management, Arcserve
ChatGPT is the fastest-growing app in history, reaching 100 million active users in just two months. For comparison, it took TikTok nine months to build that big of an audience. This powerful, open-source tool does whatever you ask it to, from writing school essays to drafting legal agreements to solving complex math problems. It also has the potential to revolutionize the way businesses operate.
With ChatGPT, you can generate reports quickly and handle customer service requests efficiently. The software can even write code for your next product offering, conduct a market analysis, and help build your company website.
While ChatGPT offers many business benefits, it also raises some urgent security questions. That’s because ChatGPT makes it possible for cybercriminals with no coding experience to create and deploy malicious software. That opens the door for anyone with bad intentions to quickly develop and then unleash malware that wreaks havoc on companies.
Security firm Check Point Research reported that, within weeks of ChatGPT’s release, individuals in cybercrime forums, including those with limited coding skills, used the tool to create software and emails for espionage, ransomware attacks, and malicious spamming. Check Points says it’s still too early to tell if ChatGPT will become the go-to tool among dark web dwellers, but cybercriminals have already shown strong interest in ChatGPT and are already using it to develop malicious code.
In one example cited by Check Point, a malware creator revealed in a cybercriminal forum that they were using ChatGPT to replicate well-known malware strains and techniques. As evidence, the individual shared the code for a Python-based information stealer that they developed using ChatGPT. The stealer searches, copies, and transfers 12 common file types from a compromised system, including Microsoft Office documents, PDFs, and images.
ChatGPT Increases Your Exposure to Attacks
Bad actors can use ChatGPT and other AI writing tools to increase the effectiveness of phishing scams. Traditional phishing messages are often easily recognizable because they are written in clumsy English. But ChatGPT can fix this. Mashable tested ChatGPT’s ability in this area by asking it to edit a phishing email. Not only did it quickly improve and refine the language, but it also went a step further and blackmailed the hypothetical recipient without being prompted to do so.
While OpenAI says it has strict policies and technical measures to protect user data and privacy, the truth is that these may not be enough. ChatGPT scrapes data from the web—potentially data from your own company—which brings security risks. For instance, data scraping can result in sensitive information, such as trade secrets and financial data, being exposed to competitors. Your reputation can also be damaged if the scraped information is inaccurate. Moreover, when data is scraped, it can open your systems to vulnerabilities that malicious actors can exploit.
Given that the attack surface has dramatically expanded with the advent of ChatGPT, what impact does this have on your security posture? Before, small and mid-sized businesses may have felt secure, thinking they weren’t worth the bother of an attack. But, because ChatGPT is making it easier to create malicious code at scale, everyone’s exposure to cybercrime has significantly increased.
ChatGPT demonstrates that while the number of security tools available to protect you may be increasing, these tools may not be able to keep pace with emerging AI technologies that could increase your vulnerability to security threats. Given the spiraling impacts of cybercrime, your business needs to be aware of the potential risks posed by ChatGPT and other advanced AI systems—and take steps to minimize those risks.
Data Protection in the Age of ChatGPT
Your first step is to understand just how vulnerable you are. Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, can help protect your data by simulating a real-world attack on your company’s systems, networks, or applications.
This exercise aims to identify security vulnerabilities that malicious actors could exploit. By exposing your weaknesses in a controlled environment, pen testing lets you find and fix those weaknesses, improve your security posture, and reduce the risk of a successful data breach or other cyberattack. In the age of ChatGPT, penetration testing can play a crucial role in helping you safeguard your data and ensure its confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
You also need to double down on your data resilience strategy. That includes having a solid data protection and disaster recovery plan in place. Your data resilience strategy defines how you will protect critical data and systems and restore normal operations as quickly and efficiently as possible if a data breach occurs.
Your disaster recovery plan provides a roadmap for responding to cybersecurity threats, including detailed instructions for securing your systems, backing up data, and communicating with stakeholders during and after an incident. By putting a disaster recovery plan in place, you can minimize the impact of cybersecurity threats and reduce the risk of data loss, helping to ensure your organization’s ongoing success and survival.
Another way of stopping ChatGPT-enabled bad guys is through immutable data storage. Immutable backups are converted to a write-once-read-many-times format that can’t be deleted or altered. There isn’t any way to reverse the immutability, which ensures that all your backups are secure, accessible, and recoverable. Even if attackers gain full access to your network, they still can’t do anything to the immutable copies of your data.
Understand Your Options
While ChatGPT offers benefits to businesses, it also poses significant security risks. You must be aware of these risks and take steps to minimize them. You should invest in solid cybersecurity measures and stay informed about the latest security trends. By putting the proper protection in place, you can realize the many benefits of ChatGPT while defending yourself against those who use the tool for malicious purposes.
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