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2023 OpenAI hack revealed

Insiders tell of a breach of an internal chat forum that the ChatGPT-maker kept to itself despite national security concerns.

user icon David Hollingworth
Mon, 08 Jul 2024
2023 OpenAI hack revealed
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A hacker managed to hack into an internal OpenAI chat forum in early 2023, but despite one employee warning of the risk of future incidents having a serious national security impact, OpenAI did not inform outside authorities.

According to two people who came forward anonymously to The New York Times, the company instead told employees of the incident in April of the same year.

OpenAI executives felt at the time that since none of the systems that host the company’s AI infrastructure were breached, it was not an issue that needed to be reported to law enforcement.

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Another employee, AI researcher Leopold Aschenbrenner, went so far as to send a memo to OpenAI’s board warning that the company was not doing enough to stop Chinese hackers and other state-backed threat actors from stealing AI technologies.

Aschenbrenner was fired in the autumn of 2024, ostensibly for leaking internal data, though the Times reports he believes it was “politically motivated”. Aschenbrenner said in a recent podcast that he was still not convinced OpenAI was doing enough to protect its work on AI from serious hackers.

OpenAI denies any such motivation.

“We appreciate the concerns Leopold raised while at OpenAI, and this did not lead to his separation,” Liz Bourgeois, an OpenAI spokeswoman, told the Times last week.

“While we share his commitment to building safe AGI [artificial general intelligence], we disagree with many of the claims he has since made about our work. This includes his characterisations of our security, notably this incident, which we addressed and shared with our board before he joined the company.”

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

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