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OWASP Top 10 Large Language Model (LLM) security risks

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OWASP Top 10 Large Language Model (LLM) security risks

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OWASP Top 10 Large Language Model (LLM) security risks

The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is a nonprofit organization focused on improving the security of software. Established in 2001, OWASP provides a variety of resources, including documentation, tools, and methodologies, aimed at identifying and mitigating security vulnerabilities in web applications and now LLM security risks.

One of its most well-known contributions is the OWASP Top 10 list, which outlines the most critical web application security risks based on data from various organizations and security experts. This list is widely used as a reference point for best practices in web security.

OWASP’s resources are generally considered industry standards for web application security and are used by organizations around the world to enhance their security postures. The organization encourages community participation and its resources are freely available, aiming to make web security knowledge accessible to as many people as possible.

Open Web Application Security Project

The rise of chatbots, powered by generative AI and large language models, has been nothing short of meteoric. In a span of just two months, these AI-powered assistants have garnered a user base of 100 million. One of the key features that have contributed to their popularity is language translation. By leveraging large language models, chatbots can provide more intuitive and contextually accurate translations, enhancing user experience.

However, as with any new technology, chatbots are not immune to misuse. The potential risks associated with their abuse have led OWASP to create a list of top 10 application security vulnerabilities for large language models. This list serves as a guide for developers and users alike, highlighting potential pitfalls and providing strategies to mitigate them.

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LLM security risks

OWASP has taken a significant step towards ensuring the security of Large Language Model (LLM) applications. They have recently released a top 10 list of security vulnerabilities specifically tailored for these applications. This list is explained in a video kindly created by IBM, and aims to educate users about potential risks and provide strategies to counter them effectively.

Topping the list of vulnerabilities is prompt injection. This can occur in two ways: direct and indirect. In a direct prompt injection, a malicious actor sends commands to the large language model, manipulating the system to their advantage. Indirect prompt injection, on the other hand, involves the insertion of harmful content into a webpage that the chatbot then processes. To counter this, OWASP recommends implementing privilege control, keeping a human in the loop, and segregating content from prompts. Learn more about each vulnerability and how it can be countered.

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The second vulnerability identified by OWASP is insecure output handling. This occurs when an application leveraging a large language model fails to check the output from the model, leading to potential issues. To prevent this, OWASP suggests treating the large language model as an untrusted user and validating both input and output.

The third vulnerability pertains to the training data used for the large language model. If the data is not trustworthy or accurate, it can lead to incorrect results. To mitigate this risk, OWASP recommends knowing and verifying your sources, constantly checking the model, and curating the data.

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Over-reliance on LLM technologies

In addition to these vulnerabilities, OWASP also highlights a bonus vulnerability: over-reliance on the technology. This can lead to misinformation if users fail to understand the limits of large language models. To prevent this, OWASP suggests training users on these limits and implementing a level of explainability in the system.

While large language models and their applications, such as chatbots, offer immense potential, they are not without their risks. The OWASP top 10 list serves as a valuable resource in identifying and mitigating these risks, ensuring that these technologies can be used safely and effectively. By understanding the vulnerabilities and implementing the recommended strategies, developers and users can harness the power of large language models while minimizing potential security issues.

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