Your ChatGPT account and conversations could be for sale on the dark web

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AI is sweeping across industries like a wave, opening up new frontiers and leaving regulators scrambling in its wake. It’s easy to see why – with tools like ChatGPT on the rise, the line between humans and machines blurs more each day. However, just when we thought we had our hands full with job displacement debates and drafting digital policies, a new issue sneaks up – ChatGPT accounts stolen and traded on the dark web.

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Some crafty cyber thieves have found a new market, not for gold or diamonds, but for AI-powered personas. These stolen ChatGPT accounts are changing hands in shadowy digital auctions, fueling the rise of cybercrime and identity theft.

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Ominous figure typing on a keyboard.

ChatCPT conversations are being stolen and sold on the dark web. ( )

The dark side of chatting with AI

Fresh from the cyber-sleuths at Singapore-based Group-IB, over 100,000 ChatGPT accounts have been hijacked by info-stealing malware and are up for grabs in the illegal bazaars of the dark web. Forty percent of these leaked accounts trace back to the Asia-Pacific region. Indian-based credentials took the dubious top spot, contributing over 12,500 to the total. The United States isn’t far behind, ranking sixth with nearly 3,000 leaked logins. France, being seventh overall, holds the unfortunate honor of being the front-runner for Europe. It’s a stark reminder that the consequences of cybercrime ripple across borders and do not discriminate on income or profession.

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Graph showing the amount of data stolen over time.

Group-IB, a Singapore-based company, reports that over 100,000 ChatGPT accounts have been stolen. (Group-IB Threat Intelligence)

Once inside, these digital trespassers get a free pass to all the chats and data stored on the accounts. In the blink of an eye, a casual chat with your AI buddy can become fodder for some bad actor on the dark web. This serves as a reminder that your chats with your AI pal are not as safe as you may have thought, and sensitive information should never be shared with any AI-powered bots or suspicious actors you come across online.

MORE: DON’T FALL FOR THESE FAKE, MALWARE-PRODUCING CHATGPT SITES

Is OpenAI at fault?

Now, before anyone starts pointing fingers, OpenAI isn’t the one leaving the doors unlocked. No, the breach is happening closer to home, right on our devices. Cybercriminals are using malware to trick their way in, sometimes hidden in seemingly harmless links or attachments or slipping through the cracks in outdated software. Once they’re in, they can access all sorts of data, including ChatGPT account details. But as every cloud has a silver lining, so does this digital dilemma. There are ways to navigate this storm without going under.

MORE: HOW HACKERS ARE USING CHATGPT TO CREATE MALWARE TO TARGET YOU

Tips to protect your digital identity

Disable chat history in ChatGPT

Every ChatGPT user can turn off their chat history feature, and here’s how to do it:

How to disable chat history in ChatGPT

  • Log into the ChatGPT website
  • On your main chat screen, click on your profile icon at the bottom left to open a pop-up menu
  • Scroll up to settings and click it
  • Tap Data Controls
  • Next to Data Controls, turn off the Chat History & Training by toggling it off. Your ChatGPT history is now disabled

Note: Even when chat history is disabled, ChatGPT will still retain new conversations for 30 days and will be used for review only in the case of abuse monitoring. After 30 days, the conversations will be permanently deleted.

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Clear old ChatGPT conversations

You can also clear old ChatGPT history. Here’s how you can do that:

How to clear old ChatGPT conversations

  • Log into the ChatGPT website
  • Click on your profile picture to see a pop-up menu
  • Then click on Clear Conversations to begin removing your chats
  • Click Confirm Clear Conversations to validate your choice. Your past ChatGPT conversation history will now be fully cleared

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Steps to take to protect yourself against identity fraud

1) Monitor your accounts

Regularly review your bank statements, credit card statements and other financial accounts for any unauthorized activity. If you notice any suspicious transactions, report them immediately to your bank or credit card company.

2) Place a fraud alert

Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion) and request a fraud alert to be placed on your credit file. This will make it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name without verification.

3) Check your credit reports

Obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies mentioned earlier. Review the reports carefully for any suspicious or unauthorized activity. If you find any inaccuracies or signs of fraud, report them to the credit reporting agency immediately.

4) Freeze your credit

Consider placing a credit freeze on your credit reports. This will restrict access to your credit file, making it difficult for anyone to open new accounts using your information. Keep in mind that this may also affect your ability to apply for new credit, so weigh the pros and cons before opting for a credit freeze.

5) Invest in identity theft protection 

Identity Theft protection companies can monitor personal information like your home title, Social Security number (SSN), phone number, and email address and alert you if it is being sold on the dark web or being used to open an account.  They can also assist you in freezing your bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals.

One of the best parts of using some services is that they might include identity theft insurance of up to $1 million to cover losses and legal fees and a white glove fraud resolution team where a US-based case manager helps you recover any losses.

See my tips and best picks on how to protect yourself from identity theft by visiting Cyberguy.com/IdentityTheft 

6) Be cautious of phishing attempts

Be vigilant about emails, phone calls or messages from unknown sources asking for personal information. Avoid clicking on suspicious links or providing sensitive details unless you can verify the legitimacy of the request. 

Check out my best antivirus protection by logging onto Cyberguy.com/LockUpYourTech

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Person typing on their laptop with graphics of keylock and a world atlas.

There are many ways to keep your data safe from malware, including two-factor authentication and keeping software up to date. (CyberGuy.com)

7) Enable two-factor authentication 

Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification, such as a code sent to your phone, in addition to your password.

8) Check Social Security benefits

It is crucial to periodically check your Social Security benefits to ensure they have not been tampered with or altered in any way, safeguarding your financial security and preventing potential fraud.

9) Request an “Identity Protection Pin” from the IRS

By requesting an “Identity Protection Pin” from the IRS, individuals can effectively deter any attempts of unauthorized tax filing using their personal information.

10) Strengthen your passwords 

Create strong passwords for your accounts and devices and avoid using the same password for multiple online accounts. Consider using a password manager to securely store and generate complex passwords. It will help you to create unique and difficult-to-crack passwords that a hacker could never guess. Second, it also keeps track of all your passwords in one place and fills them in for you when logging into an account so that you never have to remember them yourself.  The fewer passwords you remember, the less likely you will be to reuse them for your accounts.

Check out my best expert-reviewed password managers of 2023 by heading to Cyberguy.com/Passwords

11) Keep software up to date

Regularly update your operating system, antivirus software, web browsers, and other applications to ensure you have the latest security patches and protections.

MORE: BEWARE OF THE FAKE CHATGPT PLUGIN THAT’S STEALING YOUR FACEBOOK LOGIN

12) Create alias email addresses 

Creating email aliases can help protect your information and reduce spam by using additional email addresses that forward messages to your primary address, making it easier to manage incoming communications and avoid data breaches. 

To find out my picks for private and secure email providers that come with the ability to create alias email addresses, visit CyberGuy.com/Mail 

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Kurt’s key takeaways

So, there we have it. The wild, wild web isn’t just about cat videos and online shopping anymore. AI’s making a splash, and with ChatGPT’s user accounts being swiped, it seems like we’re getting a taste of the future, albeit a slightly bitter one.

The good news, though? We’re far from defenseless. Unique and complex passwords, two-factor authentication, a healthy skepticism of suspicious emails, and regular device updates are just some of the weapons in our digital armory.

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This begs the question, will AI serve as a tool for or against cyber criminals? Have you used ChatGPT? Will you use the chatbot more cautiously now? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact

For more of my security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter

Copyright 2023 CyberGuy.com. All rights reserved.

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Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise