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ChatGPT’s First Data Breach: What did it reveal?

ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, experienced its first data breach in 2023. This raised concerns about the security of the platform. Find out how the breach occurred, its impact, the response to the incident, and what it revealed about ChatGPT’s security and open source security infrastructure.

How did the ChatGPT data breach happen?

The data breach occurred due to a bug in the open-source code underlying ChatGPT. The bug was specifically related to the Redis client library, redis-py. OpenAI was using this to maintain a pool of connections between their Python server and Redis. 

The bug caused system confusion when a request was canceled within a specific timeframe. Due to this reason, the system delivered the information of the canceled request to the next user who made a similar request, as it did not know how to handle the canceled request properly. 

What Was the Impact of the Breach?

During the breach, some users had access to certain personal data of other users. This included:

  • First and last names, 
  • Payment addresses, 
  • Email addresses, 
  • Last four digits of credit card numbers, 
  • Credit card types, 
  • Credit card expiration dates, and 
  • First message of the newly-created conversations of other users

During a nine-hour window on March 20, 2023, a bug in the open-source code used by ChatGPT resulted in the exposure of data of about 1.2% ChatGPT Plus subscribers who stayed active during that span. This breach has had significant implications, including the banning of ChatGPT in one country. 

What Was the Response to the Breach?

OpenAI and the Redis open-source maintainers promptly responded to the incident. The Redis maintainers addressed the bug and released a patch to fix it. 

OpenAI expressed its continued reliance on Redis, stating that it has been crucial in scaling ChatGPT. OpenAI extensively tested the fix for the underlying bug. It improved the strength and scale of its Redis cluster to minimize the chances of errors under extreme load. 

It also announced a bug bounty program, offering rewards ranging from $200 for less acute findings to as much as $20,000 for significant discoveries. 

However, the incident also led to the banning of ChatGPT in Italy by the privacy watchdog of the country. The data breach was cited as one of the reasons for the ban. The watchdog raised concerns about OpenAI’s use of personal data for training the chatbot and highlighted issues such as the lack of notice to users and the absence of a legal basis for personal data gathering and processing. The watchdog also expressed concerns about the exposure of minors to unsuitable answers due to the absence of age verification filters. 

What did it reveal about ChatGPT’s Security Infrastructure?

The data breach exposed vulnerabilities in ChatGPT’s security and raised questions about its overall security measures. The incident highlighted the importance of thorough security testing and the need for robust security infrastructure when developing AI models. It also sheds light on the potential risks associated with using open-source components and dependencies in software development.

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David Scott
David Scott
Digital Marketing Specialist .


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