Samsung has found that reliance on ChatGPT can be a slippery slope. After being introduced to ChatGPT for basic assistance, workers at Samsung Semiconductor have begun using the tool to patch up source code errors, unknowingly exposing confidential Samsung data to external sources.
In just 20 days, Samsung Semiconductor workers used ChatGPT at least three times to seek quick fixes for internal problems. In one instance, a worker entered the source code for a proprietary program into the bot. In another, someone fed ChatGPT a series of highly-confidential test sequences for identifying defective chips and requested help with optimization. In a third case, a worker used the AI translator Naver Clova to convert a recorded meeting into a document, then asked that ChatGPT turn it into a presentation.
Because ChatGPT is managed by a third-party company that uses external servers, simply entering Samsung’s code, test sequences, and internal meeting contents into the program created a leak. Once that information is handed over, it can’t be controlled anymore. Whoever’s on the other end can do virtually anything they want with it. Samsung Electronics quickly informed both its leadership and employees that ChatGPT’s open learning data format poses too many security risks to have a place in day-to-day work, even though it had introduced the tool to its workforce in the first place.
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Many people have begun integrating ChatGPT and other generative AI tools into their work. A recent study performed by Aberdeen of 642 professionals found that 59% had used generative AI for work. As people continue to leverage powerful tools like ChatGPT and DALL-E 2, they’ll have to find ways to mitigate the risk of leaks or plagiarism—or simply avoid using the tools in specific circumstances.
The outcome of Samsung’s mishap wasn’t entirely negative, however. Samsung is now working to develop its own ChatGPT-style AI tool for internal use only so that fab workers can receive quick help without sacrificing company confidentiality. The Korean publication Economist reports that Samsung’s version limits submittable questions to 1,024 bytes, which is expected to increase as the company iterates on the tool. In the meantime, Samsung Electronics is putting in place a series of safeguards to prevent similar leaks in the future.
(Editors’ Note: Aberdeen is owned by ExtremeTech’s parent company, Ziff Davis.)