Microsoft hits Alt+F4 on internal ChatGPT access over security jitters, irony ensues

Apparently the move was in error

In what would be delicious irony, Microsoft is reported to have temporarily pulled internal access to OpenAI's ChatGPT over security fears.

Not only has Microsoft invested $13 billion into OpenAI, it is weaving the lab's generative AI products into vast swathes of the Windows and Office software portfolio.

Employees at the software biz have access to the generative AI tool internally, yet for about an hour yesterday, staff trying to access ChatGPT on company devices were instead rerouted to a notification that the website was blocked by Microsoft.

"Due to security and data concerns a number of AI tools are no longer available for employees to use," Microsoft stated on the internal website, as revealed by CNBC.

The risk of feeding sensitive data to LLMs, including ChatGPT, was highlighted earlier this year by the UK's GCHQ spy agency. "Do loose prompts sink ships?" Yes, the report concluded. The thinking is that LLMs can ingest sensitive queries and incorporate them into future versions in some way.

In April, Samsung temporarily banned staff from using ChatGPT after classified information reportedly leaked to the service, including in-development semiconductor information. The ban was lifted after three weeks.

JPMorgan Chase, Verizon, and Apple also blocked internal use.

We asked Microsoft to comment and a spokesperson told us they were looking into our query. The Windows maker told the Wall Street Journal that the internal restriction was made in error.

In a bid to turn negative press into something more useful, Microsoft added that it positively encourages internal and customer use of Bing Chat Enterprise, which uses ChatGPT Enterprise, as it offers more robust privacy protections.

We also asked OpenAI to comment.

In other related news this week, OpenAI was brought down by a suspected distributed denial of services (DDoS) attack. Signs that trouble was brewing were spotted on November 7 when the service was interrupted for more than two hours. The following day, OpenAI reported a major outage, and yesterday normal service resumed.

"We are dealing with periodic outages due to an abnormal traffic pattern reflective of a DDoS attack," OpenAI said yesterday.

Criminals linked to Russia today claimed responsibility, though this is unconfirmed at the time of writing. ®

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