Is ChatGPT safe? A cybersecurity guide for 2024
While there are ChatGPT privacy concerns and examples of ChatGPT malware scams, the game-changing chatbot has many built-in guardrails and is seen as generally safe to use.
However, as with any online tool, especially new ones, it’s important to practice good digital hygiene and stay informed about potential privacy threats as well as the ways that the tool can potentially be misused.
With its ability to write human-like content, ChatGPT has quickly become popular among students, professionals, and casual users. But with all the hype surrounding it, and early stories about GPT’s tendency to hallucinate, concerns around ChatGPT safety are warranted.
Here we’ll unpack the key things you need to know about ChatGPT safety, including examples of what OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, does to protect users. We’ll also explore ChatGPT malware and other security risks, and discuss key tips for how to use ChatGPT safely.
ChatGPT has a set of robust measures aimed at ensuring your privacy and security as you interact with the AI. Below are some key examples:
Being aware of how a website, application, or chatbot uses your personal data is an important step in protecting yourself from sensitive data exposure.
Here are the key areas to know about OpenAI’s collection and use of your data:
While it has lots of safety measures in place, ChatGPT is not without risk. Learn more about some of the key ChatGPT security risks and scams below.
A data breach is when sensitive or private data is exposed without authorization — it could then be accessed and used to benefit a cybercriminal. For example, if personal data you shared in a conversation with ChatGPT is compromised, it could put you at risk of identity theft.
Even accidental data exposure can lead to serious consequences. It’s essential to have a proactive approach to safeguarding your personal information online.
Phishing is a set of manipulative tactics cybercriminals use to trick people into giving away sensitive information like passwords or credit card details. Certain types of phishing like email phishing or clone phishing involve scammers impersonating a trusted source such as your bank or employer.
One weakness of phishing tactics is the presence of telltale signs like poor spelling or grammar. But ChatGPT can now be used by scammers to craft highly realistic phishing emails — in many languages — that can easily deceive people.
Malware is malicious software cybercriminals use to gain access to and damage a computer system or network. All types of malware require computer code, meaning hackers generally have to know a programming language to create new malware.
Scammers can now use ChatGPT to write or at least “improve” malware code for them. Although ChatGPT has guardrails in place to prevent such things from happening, there have been cases of users managing to bypass those restrictions.
Catfishing is a deceptive practice of creating a false online identity to trick others for malicious purposes like scams or identity theft. Like most social engineering tactics, catfishing requires excellent impersonation skills. But hackers could use ChatGPT to create more realistic conversations or even to impersonate specific people.
Some of the risks associated with using ChatGPT don’t even need to be deliberate or malicious to be harmful.
ChatGPT’s strength is its ability to imitate the way humans write and use language. While the large language model is trained on vast amounts of data and can answer many complex questions accurately (it earned a B grade in a university-level business course!), it has been known to make serious errors and generate false content — a phenomenon called “hallucination.” Whenever you use ChatGPT or any other generative AI, it’s crucial to fact-check the information it outputs, as it can often make stuff up and be very convincing.
Whaling is a cyber attack that targets a high-profile individual like a business executive or senior official within an organization, usually with the aim of stealing sensitive information or committing financial fraud.
While businesses can protect themselves from many attacks by using cybersecurity best practices, whaling often exploits human error rather than software weaknesses. A hacker could potentially use ChatGPT to create realistic emails that can bypass security filters and be used in a whaling attack.
Cybercriminals are tricking users into downloading fake ChatGPT apps. Some of these fake ChatGPT apps are “fleeceware” — used to extract as much money as possible from users by charging high subscription fees for services that barely function. That may allow them to be sold on Google Play and the Apple App Store without being detected.
Other ChatGPT app scams are more proactively malicious. For instance, a hacker could send a phishing email inviting you to try ChatGPT. In reality, it is a scam that takes you to a malicious website or installs ransomware on your device.
Despite ChatGPT’s security measures, as with any online tool, there are risks. Here are some key safety tips and best practices for staying safe while using ChatGPT: