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25 Mar, 2023 20:04

ChatGPT users’ data exposed due to bug

OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman has said the company “felt awful” about the leak
ChatGPT users’ data exposed due to bug

The artificial intelligence chatbot service ChatGPT suffered an outage and data breach due to a bug, the developer, OpenAI, announced on its site on Friday. Experts had previously warned about the service being a cybersecurity risk. 

The company explained that the service was taken offline on Monday to deal with a bug that allows some users to see others’ personal information. The “unintentionally visible” information included an “active user’s name, email address, payment address, the last four digits (only) of a credit card number, and credit card expiration date.” The company announcement assured clients that full credit card information was “not exposed at any time.” OpenAI then pledged to take a series of steps to improve the system’s safety to prevent any further incidents. CEO Sam Altman said in a tweet on Wednesday that the company “felt awful” about the situation.  

The company said the visibility of the payment information only affected “1.2% of the ChatGPT Plus subscribers who were active during a specific nine-hour window.” While 1.2% may sound like a small share, ChatGPT reached 100 million users in February, setting a record for having the fastest-growing user base. Clearly not all of those were paying subscribers, and less still were active during the malfunction. However, OpenAI has not revealed exact data about how many paying accounts were exposed. 

Cybersecurity experts have pointed out the risks associated with ChatGPT. Researcher M.H. Homaei named the “risk of data breaches” as “one of the primary security concerns” in an article in late February. Specops Software warned that ChatGPT could be a “bigger cybersecurity risk than an actual benefit,” in a report last week. However, it argued that the program itself could be used to create malicious software. 

After being released last November, ChatGPT rose to prominence as a highly capable AI tool. The program even passed US university exams for entrance into both law and business schools. Tesla owner and billionaire Elon Musk called it “scary good” and was reportedly looking to develop a similar AI tool of his own. Google has also joined the AI race, having launched its ChatGPT rival Bard just this past week.