AI Security: Are Language-Processing Tools A Threat?

Large language models (LLMs) and natural language processing (NLP) are taking the business world by storm. Subsets of artificial intelligence (AI) frameworks, these language-based operations power applications like ChatGPT and customer service solutions such as chatbots.

Data shows the growing power of these intelligent options: ChatGPT became the fastest-growing consumer application in history just two months after its launch, and 75% of companies say they plan to increase spending on NLP tools over the next 12 to 18 months.

Despite their potential to help businesses better understand buyers and improve the customer experience, however, these tools also come with potential security risks. Here’s what businesses need to know about possible threats, new protection efforts and how they can stay ahead of AI security issues.

Too Smart, or Not Smart Enough? Potential Risks of AI Language Processing

AI tools excel at specific tasks when given enough data, but often fail when requested functions are too general. Combined, these two characteristics set the stage for three emerging threats:

Data Manipulation

Language processing tools rely on data. The bigger and broader the data set, the better, since this provides more context for the model and helps it produce better answers. The problem? This reliance means solutions are susceptible to data manipulation, also called data poisoning.

It works like this: Since many AI models scrape the Internet for data to help inform responses, attackers can manipulate these responses by purchasing domains and filling them with false data that is then ingested by AI.

Solution Jailbreaking

There are also efforts underway to jailbreak solutions such as ChatGPT by circumventing the tool’s safety guardrails. This is accomplished using what are known as prompt injections. Prompts are queries that direct AI to take specific action or answer specific questions. Prompt injections by malicious actors attempt to manipulate AI — for example, they might ask AI tools with strict guidelines to “role play” as chatbots that don’t have these instructions, in turn avoiding restrictions.

Scam and Phishing Support

When it comes to AI in cyber security, there are also growing concerns about the use of AI-enhanced assistants that help answer user questions and direct them to specific websites. Attackers may be able to add hidden text to these websites, which changes the AI behavior and leads users to sites with malicious links.

New Efforts in Artificial Intelligence Security

Put simply, the evolving nature of AI tools means there’s no quick fix for language processing problems. But it’s not all bad news — there are efforts underway to help reduce the risk of AI compromise.

First up for artificial intelligence in cyber security is the growing use of authentication to limit the unauthorized reach of AI tools. Consider a user asking an AI virtual assistant to find a flight from Los Angeles to New York. Without authentication, attackers may be able to leverage plug-ins or other applications that redirect users to fake airline sites that collect their personal or financial data. By implementing authentication, meanwhile, users are notified if any additional services are being used and must approve this use before continuing.

Artificial intelligence in cyber security may also benefit from the use of specially trained AI tools. Here, the idea is using AI to catch AI — in the same way that tools can be trained to disregard safety barriers, solutions can also be trained to detect potentially malicious inputs and outputs.

In addition, there’s a need for increased user diligence when it comes to AI language models. This may take the form of education to help users understand where models are safe to use and where they present risks. It’s also a good idea for companies to include AI in their general security training — for example, staff shouldn’t assume that results from AI tools are naturally trustworthy. Instead, a zero-trust approach that prioritizes verification before action can help reduce risk.

Staying Ahead of Intelligence Issues

As the meteoric rise of ChatGPT demonstrates, the role of AI intelligence in cyber security is always evolving — and when new solutions take hold, companies don’t waste time getting on board.

For businesses, this creates a protective paradox: New tools are required to stay competitive, but emerging artificial intelligence security threats put companies at risk.

To stay ahead of issues without compromising operations, businesses need agile, adaptable security frameworks capable of keeping pace. One option to help improve IT security is the use of managed security solutions from a trusted provider. With network security solutions and turnkey managed IT services from CIO Tech, businesses get the best of both worlds: Protection that meets their immediate needs paired with ongoing updates to ensure data is defended against new AI threats.

Bottom line? Language processing tools aren’t going anywhere. With benefits for customer service, product search and SEO, these AI solutions are on track to become an integral part of business operations. With new tech, however, comes new threats. Adaptable, agile frameworks are now a smart investment to stay ahead of AI security threats. 

Strike a balance between AI solutions and data security. See how CIO Tech can help with artificial intelligence in cyber security.

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