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OpenAI’s latest updates introduce a huge new security risk

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

By being able to call and interact with third party systems, AI’s, apps, scripts, websites, and more hackers have found a new way to hack “everything.”

 

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OpenAI’s recent update to ChatGPT Plus added a myriad of new features, including DALL-E image generation and the Code Interpreter, which allows Python code execution and file analysis. The code is created and run in a sandbox environment that is unfortunately vulnerable to prompt injection attacks.

 

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A known vulnerability in ChatGPT for some time now, the attack involves tricking ChatGPT into executing instructions from a third-party URL, leading it to encode uploaded files into a URL-friendly string and send this data to a malicious website. While the likelihood of such an attack requires specific conditions, for example, the user must actively paste a malicious URL into ChatGPT, the risk remains concerning. This security threat could be realized through various scenarios, including a trusted website being compromised with a malicious prompt — or through social engineering tactics.

 

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Tom’s Hardware did some impressive work testing just how vulnerable users may be to this attack. The exploit was tested by creating a fake environment variables file and using ChatGPT to process and inadvertently send this data to an external server.

 

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Although the exploit’s effectiveness varied across sessions, E.G.: ChatGPT sometimes refused to load external pages or transmit file data, it raises significant security concerns, especially given the AI’s ability to read and execute Linux commands and handle user-uploaded files in a Linux-based virtual environment.

 

As Tom’s Hardware states in its findings, despite seeming unlikely, the existence of this security loophole is significant. ChatGPT should ideally not execute instructions from external web pages, yet it does.

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