#HowTo: Protect Organizations Against ChatGPT Cyber-Threats

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The emergence of ChatGPT has accelerated digital transformation across industries and transformed how companies operate - automating routine tasks, enhancing customer service and providing real-time data analysis. Despite these advances, ChatGPT is serving as a tool for bad actors to advance their agendas and allowing them to breach defenses. Here we look at how cyber-criminals are leveraging ChatGPT to carry out cybercrime and the ways businesses can protect themselves: regularly training employees, routinely updating software and enforcing strong passwords.

One of the primary security concerns associated with ChatGPT is its ability to generate malicious code. Research into dark web forums found instances of low-skilled hackers using the chatbot to “improve” malware code. Other issues raised include ChatGPT’s ability to produce credible phishing content, the potential to craft misinformation, and the ability to convincingly replicate both video and audio recordings of individuals. With the potential for cyber-criminals to damage brand reputation and expose sensitive data – companies need to view cybersecurity as an always-on priority, especially in this current economic climate. So, what can they do?

Regularly Train Employees on Cybersecurity Practices

In 2022, research showed that 82% of data breaches involved a human element – for example, employees exposing information directly or by making a mistake. This shows that employees - intentionally or not - are enabling cyber-criminals to access systems and are facilitating the exposure of sensitive company information. To minimize risks associated with ChatGPT, organizations need to train staff on how to use the chatbot safely and responsibly, educating them about the potential risks and how to avoid them.

To do this, companies will need their employees to adopt high standards of cyber vigilance. This includes regular training sessions, workshops and phishing simulations to give them the skills to identify and respond to potential threats. These practices must be specific to the individual business, given that cybersecurity threats are unique to each company, depending on factors such as location and the type of data they handle. 

Routinely Update Your Software

Next, software updates are crucial in protecting against cyber threats related to ChatGPT. To date, cyber-criminals have exploited vulnerabilities in software, especially in outdated legacy systems - launching malware attacks to infect computer networks and carrying out data breaches to gain access to unauthorized data. Now, with ChatGPT, businesses must regularly monitor and update their software – to ensure that the chatbot is functioning properly and not being used inappropriately.

Given that new vulnerabilities emerge every day, updating ChatGPT with regular software updates will enhance existing features and patch security flaws. Examples of the benefits of software updates include improving security patches, encryption algorithms and strengthening authentication mechanisms – all of which, if the software is regularly updated, will reduce the risk of business disruptions. Alongside this, businesses will need to regularly monitor the chatbot and carry out vulnerability assessments – looking at where they are most at risk and having a response plan in place.

Implement Strong Security Measures

Finally, strong security measures such as passwords, two-factor authentication and encryption will be essential for ChatGPT data security. We can expect an uptick in bot takeovers whereby a malicious actor can simply take control of the chatbot by guessing a user’s password. This could lead to bad actors accessing sensitive user data and conversations, spreading misinformation and phishing attacks or scams. 

To keep safe, companies can encourage employees to use unique and complex passwords and regularly change their passwords across multiple accounts to prevent bad actors from easily guessing their passwords. Businesses can also educate employees about the importance of strong passwords and how they impact business operations. For instance, how a weak password can allow cyber-criminals to access sensitive business systems, networks and data, and how this can lead to a widespread data breach. With more sensitive accounts, organizations can include two-factor authentication, which provides an additional layer of security – sending a unique code to their mobile device, along with a password.

As ChatGPT continues to transform many business processes, from content creation to customer service, we must pay equal attention to the cybersecurity risks. Given ChatGPT is relatively new, related cyber threats are constantly evolving, just as the costs associated with cyber breaches are reaching record highs. Companies will need to take a proactive approach and implement defenses now. 

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