Skip to main content

Since the dawn of social media two-plus decades ago, people everywhere have grown more, and more, and more comfortable sharing information—sometimes considerably beyond what’s necessary. Our collective journey from posting too much information (TMI) on MySpace and Facebook to sharing Instagram and Pinterest photos of every minute of our lives to having human-like, AI-powered conversations with large language models (LLMs) has been swift. Unfortunately, within the context of Generative AI (GenAI), oversharing isn’t just a social faux pas, it’s a significant security risk, particularly for organizations.

GenAI models, such as LLMs, offer remarkable capabilities in terms of generating all sorts of content—including accurate and relevant content, which will be addressed in a future post—but they are the most porous of information sieves and pose a substantial risk when fed detailed, private, or sensitive information. The ease of interacting with LLMs can lull users into a false sense of security, leading to unintentional oversharing of critical data and instances of inadvertent data exposure through LLMs. In fact, it has become so common that it fails to raise many eyebrows any more when reports surface of executives sharing strategic company documents, physicians entering patient details, or engineers uploading proprietary source code into a public model, suching as ChatGPT or others. These are just a few examples of how sensitive information can be compromised unintentionally because the person sending the information didn’t realize it becomes part of the model’s knowledge base. There is no getting it back and there are no do-overs. It’s out there. Forever. 

The key to leveraging the power of LLMs without compromising security lies in the art and science of creating prompts. Crafting a prompt that is detailed enough to elicit the desired response, yet discreet enough to protect sensitive information, is imperative. This requires a thoughtful approach to crafting the prompts, balancing the need for specificity with the imperative of discretion. Some tips to impress upon the users are: 

  • Be Concise and Clear: Avoid including unnecessary details that could reveal confidential information. These could include personal or project names, dates, destinations, and other particulars.
  • Use Hypothetical Scenarios: When seeking AI assistance for sensitive tasks, frame requests in hypothetical terms. Do not use real names of companies, people, projects, or places. 
  • Maintain Awareness: The AI security training and education you provide to employees about the risks of oversharing should be reinforced with frequent reminders and helpful guidelines about best practices when using AI tools.
  • Implement Oversight Mechanisms: Monitor the usage of AI tools to detect and prevent potential data leaks and identify potential internal threats.

However, even the most diligent employee writing a carefully worded prompt can still cause security issues. That is why an automated trust layer with customizable content scanners can be the key to watertight data loss prevention (DLP). The CalypsoAI security and enablement platform for GenAI deployments reviews outgoing and incoming content to ensure confidential personal or company data doesn’t leave the organization and malicious, suspicious, or otherwise unacceptable content doesn’t get in. Other scanners review prompts for content that, while not detrimental to the company, is not aligned with company values or doesn’t conform to business use. All interactions executed on our model-agnostic platform are recorded for administrator review, auditability, and accountability purposes. 

As LLMs become more ingrained in our daily operations, the importance of managing how we interact with them cannot be overstated. Oversharing, whether intentional or accidental, can have far-reaching, deeply negative consequences. By adopting prudent practices in employee engagement with these powerful tools, your organization can reap the benefits of GenAI while safeguarding personal and professional information.

Click here to schedule a demonstration of our GenAI security and enablement platform.

Try our product for free here. 

Going to RSA? Click here to book a meeting with us.