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Using OpenAI’s products? Turns out your personal data is not as safe as you believed- Google researchers recently released a study in which they found they could utilize keywords to trick ChatGPT into tapping into and releasing training data that was not intended for disclosure.
The massive growth in ChatGPT usage rests in part on its collection of over 300 billion chunks of data scraped from various online sources, and although OpenAI has taken steps to protect privacy, everyday chats and postings leave a massive pool of data (much of it personal) that is not intended for widespread distribution.
The researchers said in their paper that they were able to extract over 10,000 unique verbatim memorized training examples using only $200 worth of queries to ChatGPT, adding- “Our extrapolation to larger budgets suggests that dedicated adversaries could extract far more data.”
They elaborated that they could obtain names, phone numbers, and addresses of individuals and companies by feeding ChatGPT absurd commands that force a malfunction.
According to Techxplore, the researchers would request that ChatGPT repeat the word “poem” ad infinitum, which forced the model to reach beyond its training procedures and “fall back on its original language modeling objective” and tap into restricted details in its training data. They also reached a similar result by requesting infinite repetition of the word “company,” and managed to retrieve the email address and phone number of an American law firm.
In response to potential unauthorized data disclosures, some companies placed restrictions on employee usage of large language models earlier this year. Rising concerns about data breaches caused OpenAI to add a feature that turns off chat history, adding a layer of protection to sensitive data. The problem is that such data is still retained for 30 days before being permanently deleted.
In conclusion, the researchers termed their findings “worrying” and said their report should serve as “a cautionary tale for those training future models,” warning that users “should not train and deploy LLMs for any privacy-sensitive applications without extreme safeguards.”