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July 7, 2024

5 Steps to Ensure Data Security in Generative AI Environments

Generative AI has captured the world’s imagination, with people using it to create stunningly realistic images, craft poetry and prose, and even code software. However, beyond its eye-catching creative capabilities, there’s enormous potential for the technology to transform data security. In all the excitement over AI’s artistic talents, it’s easy to overlook how combining generative AI and security strategies can also revolutionize how organizations protect their sensitive data from internal threats.

As with most things related to digital transformation, technological benefits are often counterbalanced by threats and risks. Safeguarding information has become a perennial race between data protectors and threat actors, with each side relentlessly pursuing the upper hand. Generative AI data security options represent a powerful new weapon for organizations seeking to safeguard their proprietary data, offering an unprecedented opportunity to automate and enhance data security measures.

Generative AI Security Risks: What Businesses Need to Know

Data is now the heart of most, if not all, organizations’ operations, and generative AI (GenAI) is supercharging every area. It finds data that predicts and prevents operational risks and enables companies to gain valuable insights from proprietary data. But it also exposes them to critical threats, including:

  • Sensitive data exposure.
  • Data and intellectual property theft and leakage.
  • Malicious targeted attacks.
  • Misuse of generative technologies and creation of hallucinations or misleading information.
  • Plagiarism and copyright infringement.
  • Bias amplification, leading to unfair or discriminatory outcomes.

Securing AI tools and technologies requires a well-planned and executed strategy so organizations can successfully leverage GenAi across their businesses while avoiding potential risks and complying with various regulations.

Automating and Enhancing Data Security With GenAI

Integrating GenAI into data protection strategies requires robust tenets and best practices to ensure the technology delivers useful results without compromising data security and privacy. GenAI’s automation capabilities streamline various processes, including monitoring data access patterns and detecting anomalies that might indicate internal threats. This automation speeds up response times and reduces the likelihood of human error, a significant factor in many data breaches. Further, by implementing machine learning models, GenAI continuously learns from the data it analyzes, enhancing its ability to protect sensitive information over time.

1. Establish a Trusted Environment to Minimize Data Loss Risks

When integrating applications like ChatGPT, a primary business concern is the potential leakage of the organization’s intellectual property or sensitive data. While using these tools to enhance efficiency or explore new technologies, employees might also inadvertently expose confidential information through their interactions with generative AI. This risk can be effectively minimized by strategically considering where data flows and potential use cases. For instance, you might:

  • Develop custom interfaces using OpenAI’s Large Language Model (LLM) API to leverage OpenAI’s language models while bypassing standard ChatGPT interfaces. You can design these solutions to include built-in safeguards that prevent sensitive data input, automatically redact confidential information, and limit the scope of queries to specific, pre-approved areas. This dynamic approach allows you to harness Gen-AI’s advantages while maintaining stricter control over data flow and user interactions.
  • Automatically classify and tag organizational data in real-time by implementing GenAI models that identify potentially sensitive information before it’s shared with external AI tools. This also helps enforce data handling policies by ensuring that only appropriately cleared employees can access certain types of information.
  • Create AI-assisted data masking tools that automatically anonymize or pseudonymize sensitive data before it’s used in external apps. These tools are designed to intelligently replace names, addresses, financial details, and other personally identifying information (PII) with fictitious data that maintains the overall structure and context of the original content, allowing employees to leverage AI tools for analysis or content generation without exposing actual sensitive data.

These and other proactive measures ensure sensitive data remains under an organization’s control while less critical information can safely interact with external services.

2. Proactive Employee Training on GenAI

ChatGPT’s rapid ascent underscores the critical need for routine employee training. Unfortunately, this necessity has resulted in countless online tutorials, seminars, and social media lessons that encourage or further misinformation and unauthorized use (shadow IT), posing new data security threats. Dedicated company-sponsored training programs are essential to educating employees about inherent business and security risks and establishing best practices for safe and effective use.

3. Data Transparency in AI Utilization

Maintaining the integrity of the data used in training and deploying LLMs is crucial, given its potential to affect your business’s outcomes and reputation. Transparency about the data’s origins and quality mitigates risks related to bias, plagiarism, and data manipulation. Openness about training processes and data provenance builds trust within the company and among stakeholders, guiding employees on when and how to engage with GenAI responsibly.

4. Enhance AI Security With Human Oversight

Human supervision of AI prevents the technology’s misuse and boosts data security efforts. AI responses are checked and refined based on human feedback. Using a secondary AI model to evaluate and adjust outputs from primary business applications ensures your organization’s use of AI remains secure and aligned with ethical standards.

5. Recognize and Mitigate Emerging AI Model Threats

For all their advanced capabilities, AI systems are not immune to attacks. For instance, “prompt injection” attacks can manipulate AI outputs for malicious purposes. Recognizing such threats is essential for designing security measures that safeguard AI models from being compromised. Alertness to emerging data security threats, such as invisible commands embedded in prompts, is critical for maintaining AI application integrity and trustworthiness in business environments.

Practical Approaches to Governing Generative AI

While the previous principles focus on understanding and managing your organization’s data landscape, the following tenets delve into the practical application of GenAI for enhancing data security. They aim to leverage GenAI’s capabilities while implementing robust safeguards to protect sensitive information:

Map Your Data Landscape

The cornerstone of data security, privacy, and governance is having a comprehensive understanding of your enterprise’s data environment. Conducting a thorough data discovery process protects your most valuable and sensitive information, especially when GenAI tools are being trained on data scattered across your infrastructure. Implement advanced scanning technologies that identify sensitive data across all data sources and types, whether in the cloud or on-premises, including unstructured and structured data, mainframes, messaging systems, data pipelines, and various applications and platforms. Deploy accelerated scanning techniques for unstructured data and leverage cloud auto-discovery capabilities to cover major cloud providers like AWS, GCP, and Azure.

Contextualize Data Through Classification

Understanding data’s depth is as equally important as discovering it in the first place. Classifying data with rich context and insights presents a clear picture of its nature, including data types, ownership, sensitivity levels, location, and access permissions, enabling more effective risk management and mitigation strategies to prevent unauthorized exposure or use by LLM. The goal is to create a dynamic and comprehensive sensitive data inventory with contextual attributes for a holistic understanding of your data landscape.

Recognize Data Similarities

Identifying similar data ensures AI models effectively apply learned knowledge to new, unseen information. The process exposes AI systems to a diverse range of data to ensure comprehensive learning and avoid biases or undesirable behaviors tied to specific instances.

Implement Precise Data Labeling and Tagging

Accurate and detailed data labeling and tagging allow for improved management and enforcement when handling sensitive information such as credit card details, PII, and regulated health information. Comprehensive data labeling is essential for training LLMs, providing labeled datasets that serve as “ground truth” for supervised learning and enabling models to grasp language nuances, learn task-specific associations, and enhance overall performance.

Proactively Address Data Risks

Developing the capability to swiftly detect, investigate, and remediate data at risk, whether it’s being unintentionally leveraged by LLMs or accessible to unauthorized users, is critical in minimizing data security threats. A comprehensive data and risk posture management platform ensures quick and precise identification and resolution of critical data risks across your environment. Automation and user-friendly interfaces streamline the process.

Conduct Regular Data Risk Assessments

Performing routine data security evaluations helps your organization maintain a robust data security posture, drives awareness, and improves decision-making regarding data assets. Given that data security and risk management are now board-level concerns, these evaluations are essential for engaging all key stakeholders.

GenAI is a revolutionary advancement in governing, protecting, and securing AI data. AI-powered solutions from Velotix help organizations overcome data security threats and drive organizational success while enhancing their overall data security posture and resilience.

Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a demo.