OpenAI’s week of security issues

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, July 4th was a quiet day for news, but we’ve still got editorials on e-ink writing, the most-delayed video game ever and more bad news from the makers of ChatGPT.

Earlier this week, engineer and Swift developer Pedro José Pereira Vieito dug into OpenAI’s Mac ChatGPT app and found that it was storing user conversations locally in plain text, rather than encrypting them. Because that app is only available from OpenAI’s website, and since it’s not available on the App Store, it doesn’t have to follow Apple’s sandboxing requirements. OpenAI released an update that added encryption to locally stored chats.

Then, more bad news stemmed from issues in 2023. Last spring, a hacker obtained information about OpenAI after illicitly accessing the company’s internal messaging systems. The New York Times reported that OpenAI technical program manager Leopold Aschenbrenner raised security concerns, arguing that the hack implied internal vulnerabilities.

Aschenbrenner now says he was fired for disclosing information about OpenAI and for surfacing security concerns. A representative from OpenAI told The Times that “while we share his commitment to building safe A.G.I., we disagree with many of the claims he has since made about our work” and added that his exit was not the result of whistleblowing.

It adds to an increasingly messy impression of how the company’s oversight and practices can be behind those closed corporate doors.

– Mat Smith

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