From ChatGPT to GPT-4, Language Models at Risk

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August 13, 2023

ChatGPT saw an explosive rise, amassing over 100 million users shortly after its launch. The wave of innovation has since given rise to evolved models like GPT-4 and various other scaled-down iterations.

While Large Language Models (LLMs) have found applications in numerous fields, their adaptability through organic prompts also leaves them susceptible. Such malleability can be exploited through strategies like Prompt Injection attacks, enabling malicious parties to circumvent built-in safeguards.

The integration of LLMs into apps complicates matters. These apps blur the boundaries between data and instructions, paving the way for Indirect Prompt Injection. This method allows wrongdoers to meddle with apps from a distance, manipulating them by infusing specific prompts.

At a recent Black Hat convention, a group of cybersecurity experts showcased a breach of the ChatGPT system using indirect prompt injection. 

The growing ambiguity between data and instructions is alarming. This can enable distant actors to steer the behavior of LLMs indirectly. Recent instances have highlighted the ramifications of such intrusions.

Also Read: Balada Injector Malware Targets Vulnerable WordPress Sites

From ChatGPT to GPT-4, Language Models at Risk

These discoveries indicate potential large-scale disruptions by malevolent actors. This newfound vulnerability spectrum necessitates a holistic framework for security evaluation.

Prompt Injection (PI) attacks, traditionally focused on individual cases, pose a threat to LLMs. When these models integrate into applications, they encounter unfamiliar data, paving the way for new hazards, notably the ‘indirect prompt injections.’ Such methods can be exploited to relay specific payloads, piercing the protective barriers with a mere search request.

Researchers have recognized various techniques for these injections, including:

  • Passive Approaches
  • Active Approaches
  • User-Initiated Injections
  • Concealed Injections

The ethical implications surrounding LLMs intensify as they permeate into diverse applications. Concerning the ‘indirect prompt injection’ vulnerabilities, revelations were responsibly made to both OpenAI and Microsoft.

However, the uniqueness of this security aspect remains a topic of contention, especially given the sensitivity of LLMs to prompts.

OpenAI’s GPT-4 aimed to reinforce its defenses against potential breaches through a safety-focused RLHF mechanism. Yet, real-world intrusions persist, drawing parallels to an endless game of “Whack-A-Mole.”

The influence of RLHF on such attacks is yet to be defined; some theoreticians challenge its comprehensive protective capabilities. The dynamic between attacks, defense mechanisms, and subsequent implications remains ambiguous.

RLHF, combined with undisclosed app defense strategies, might offset such threats. Bing Chat’s triumphant stance with augmented filters ignites discussions about future models evading detection through enhanced camouflage or encryption.

Defensive measures like refining input data to weed out manipulative instructions pose challenges. Striking a balance between specialized models and intricate input recognition is intricate. As observed in the Base64 coding experiment, upcoming models can interpret encoded instructions without explicit directives.

Saher Mahmood

Saher Mahmood


Saher is a cybersecurity researcher with a passion for innovative technology and AI. She explores the intersection of AI and cybersecurity to stay ahead of evolving threats.

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