Six Key Security Risks of Generative AI

Isaac Madan
May 18, 2023
Six Key Security Risks of Generative AISix Key Security Risks of Generative AI
Isaac Madan
May 18, 2023
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Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) has revolutionized various fields, from creative arts to content generation. However, as this technology becomes more prevalent, it raises important considerations regarding data privacy and confidentiality. In this blog post, we will delve into the implications of Generative AI on data privacy and explore the role of Data Leak Prevention (DLP) solutions in mitigating potential risks.

The Rise of Generative AI

Generative AI refers to a class of machine learning algorithms that can autonomously generate content, such as images, text, or even music. These algorithms learn from large datasets and create new content that resembles the patterns and characteristics of the training data. While Generative AI has yielded remarkable advancements, it also presents challenges when it comes to data privacy and confidentiality.

Data Privacy Concerns

  1. Data Sprawl from Unfiltered Prompts: Users can input anything to Generative AI services via open text fields. This can include confidential, proprietary, and sensitive information. For example, with code generation services like GitHub Copilot, code may be transmitted to the service that reflects both proprietary company intellectual property, as well as contain sensitive data like API keys that provide privileged access to customer data.
  2. Training Data Exposure: Generative AI models require vast amounts of data for training, which can include sensitive information. If not properly handled, this data could be inadvertently exposed during the training process, leading to potential privacy breaches.
  3. Data Retention and Storage: Generative AI models improve with more data, and this training data needs to be stored for at least some period of time during which models are trained and optimized. This means sensitive enterprise data sits in third-party data silos and is thus susceptible to misuse and leakage during this time period if not effectively safeguarded via encryption at rest, access controls, etc.
  4. Regulatory Compliance: Sensitive data transmits to third-party AI providers, such as OpenAI, which may impose compliance implications with GDPR, CCPA, etc. if this data includes PII.
  5. Synthetic Data Generation: Generative AI can create synthetic data that resembles real data, raising concerns about the potential for re-identification. Synthetic data may contain subtle patterns or information that could lead to the identification of individuals or sensitive attributes.
  6. Unintended Information Leakage: Generative models, especially text or image-based models, can inadvertently encode information from the training data that was not intended to be exposed. This could include personally identifiable information or confidential business data.

Generative AI Security Strategy

Effectively enabling the usage of Generative AI requires a robust security policy that touches on four key areas:

  • Organizational Policies: Outlines when Generative AI can be used by employees (content creation, meeting summary notes, etc.) and what type of data can be shared with these tools.
  • Approved Services: A list of approved AI services that can be used by employees.
  • Threat Model: A structured process that identifies security requirements, pinpoints security threats and potential vulnerabilities. The key threats when using Generative AI are outlined above and threat modeling should proactively prevent these risks through policies and tolls such as DLP.
  • Data Leak Prevention: Proactive protection that helps redact data that is deliberately or inadvertently shared in AI prompts. Leading DLP tools also have customized user message that allow for effective security training.

The Importance of Data Leak Prevention

Data Leak Prevention (DLP) solutions play a crucial role in safeguarding data privacy and confidentiality in the context of Generative AI. Here's how DLP fits into the solution:

  • Visibility: Detect sensitive data like PII and API Keys that are being sent to Generative AI services like ChatGPT.
  • Protection: Redact sensitive data from prompts so only sanitized prompts are sent to Generative AI services.
  • Coach and Train: Notify end-users in real-time when they are exposing sensitive data or breaking policy when using Generative AI services.

Benefits of Proactive Security for Generative AI

  • Be an enabler instead of a blocker to enterprise use of Generative AI. Enable safe usage of these services, instead of outright blocking them. Make it easier for end-users to use them responsibly.
  • Reduce overhead of manual enforcement and attempting to patch endless shadow IT gaps. There are already scores of popular Generative AI services, including major ones such as ChatGPT, PaLM, and Bard. There will probably be thousands of specialized AI services available in the coming years and it will be impossible to block or monitor all of them independently.


Generative AI holds immense potential, but it also brings significant data privacy and confidentiality implications. Organizations need to adopt robust Data Leak Prevention (DLP) solutions that prioritize privacy-preserving techniques to address these challenges. By employing data classification, anonymization, privacy-preserving training, and model auditing, organizations can strike a balance between the benefits of Generative AI and safeguarding data privacy. As Generative AI continues to evolve, it is crucial to prioritize privacy protection to build trust and ensure the responsible use of this transformative technology.

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