An old security hole was found in the new ChatGPT

An old security hole was found in the new ChatGPT tool – hackers can use it to steal confidential data

The paid version of the ChatGPT Plus service now includes a Python interpreter, which makes writing code much easier and even allows you to run it in an isolated environment. Unfortunately, this isolated environment, which is also used for processing spreadsheets, analyzing them and creating charts, is vulnerable and previously identified attack mechanisms are still being reproduced, confirmed the editor-in-chief of the resource Tom’s Hardware Avram Piltch.

    Image source: Jonathan Kemper /

Image source: Jonathan Kemper /

If you have a ChatGPT Plus account, which is required to access advanced features, it is still possible to reproduce the exploit reported by cybersecurity expert Johann Rehberger. A link to an external resource is inserted into a chat window and the bot interprets the instructions on the corresponding page in the same way as if it were executing direct user commands.

Practice has shown that under Ubuntu the platform creates a new virtual machine with each chat session; The path to your home directory is /home/sandbox and all downloaded files are available in /mnt/data. Of course, ChatGPT Plus does not provide direct access to the command line, but Linux commands can be entered directly into the chat window and in most cases results will be returned. For example, using the ls command, we were able to get a list of all files in /mnt/data. Similarly, you can open your home directory (“cd /home/sandbox”) and use the “ls” command to get a list of the subdirectories within it.

To test the functionality of the exploit, the experimenter loaded the env_vars.txt file into the dialog box, which contained a nonexistent API key and password – this data is assumed to be important. To bypass access to the downloaded file, a web page hosted on an external resource was created with a set of instructions instructing ChatGPT to take all data from the files ([DATA]) in the “/mnt/data” folder, enter it in a line of text in the reply URL and send it to the server controlled by the “attacker” using a link like “ ” consequences. php?mydata=[DATA]” The “malicious” page displayed a weather forecast – this is how the author of the experiment showed that a “prompt injection” attack can be carried out from a page with reliable information.

    Image source:

Image source:

The address of the “malicious” site was pasted into the chat box and he responded as expected: he compiled a summary of the content and retold the weather forecast; and executed “malicious” instructions. The server controlled by the “attacker” was configured to log requests (collect logs), which made it possible to use it to collect data. As a result, ChatGPT obediently transferred the contents of a file with data to an external resource in a critical format: an API key and password. The experiment was repeated several times and ChatGPT shared the information previously obtained with varying degrees of success. Its role was played not only by a text file, but also by a CSV table. Sometimes the chatbot refused to switch to an external resource but did so in the next conversation. Sometimes it refused to transfer data to an external server but displayed a link containing that data.

The journalist admitted that the problem may seem far-fetched, but it is actually a vulnerability that should not exist in ChatGPT: the platform should not execute instructions from external resources, but it does and has been doing so for a long time.


About the author

Robbie Elmers

Robbie Elmers is a staff writer for Tech News Space, covering software, applications and services.

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