Uncover hidden risks

Watch how the Wiz platform can expose unseen risks in your cloud environment without drowning your team in alerts.

7 AI Security Risks You Can't Ignore

Learn about the most pressing security risks shared by all AI applications and how to mitigate them.

Wiz Experts Team
5 aANyg+

The Top 7 AI security risks

Understanding the risks at each stage of the AI development process allows organizations to build more secure AI systems by proactively implementing the proper security measures. Below, we explore the different types of AI risks along with potential attack scenarios and mitigation recommendations.

1. Limited testing

Why it matters:

AI models can behave in unexpected ways in production, which can adversely affect user experience and open up the system to a variety of known and unknown threats. 

Real-life attack scenarios:

Malicious actors might manipulate the model’s behavior by subtly altering the input data (evasion attack) or by strategically positioning/manipulating data during model training (data poisoning attack). 

Visualization of potential data poisoning of Vertex AI datasets imported from a publicly exposed Google Cloud Storage bucket

Mitigation:

  • To test datasets, introduce a wide variety of real-world examples and adversarial examples.

  • Establish a comprehensive testing framework that encompasses unit tests, integration tests, penetration tests, and adversarial tests.

  • Advocate for adversarial training during model development to enhance model resilience against input manipulations.

2. Lack of explainability

Why it matters:

AI models can behave in ways that are hard to understand and justify. Limited visibility into AI logic minimizes testing capabilities, leading to reduced trust and increased risk of exploitation.

Real-life attack scenarios:

An attack could attempt to reverse engineer the AI model to gain unauthorized access (model inversion attack). An attacker could also manipulate input data directly (content manipulation attack) to compromise your model. 

Mitigation:

  • Advocate for the use of interpretable models and techniques during model development. 

  • Implement post hoc explainability techniques to analyze and interpret the decisions made by the AI model after deployment.

  • Establish clear, documented guidelines that AI developers can use as a reference point to maintain transparency.

3. Data breaches

Why they matter:

The exposure of sensitive data can harm customers and cause business disruptions. Furthermore, data breaches often lead to wide-reaching legal consequences resulting from regulatory non-compliance.

Example of a publicly exposed AWS Sagemaker notebook with access to sensitive data

Real-life attack scenarios:

An attacker might try to detect if a specific individual’s data was used to train an AI model (membership inference attack). Cybercriminals may also attempt to deduce sensitive data by analyzing a model’s output (attribute inference attack). 

Generative AI applications, especially when built on large language models (LLMs), are particularly sensitive to these types of attacks. That’s why it’s especially important to keep an eye on gen AI risks.

Mitigation:

  • Implement robust encryption for data at rest and in transit.

  • Ensure differential privacy techniques are applied during model development.

  • Regularly audit and monitor access to sensitive data, following the principle of least privilege. 

  • Adhere to data protection regulations, such as GDPR.

4. Adversarial attacks

Why they matter:

Adversarial attacks compromise the integrity of the AI models, resulting in incorrect or unwanted outputs, which undermine system reliability and the overall security posture.

Real-life attack scenarios:

Threat actors could aim to exploit the model's sensitivity to changes in input features by manipulating gradients during the training process (gradient-based attack). Threat actors can also reduce the model’s resistance to attacks by manipulating input features (model evasion through input manipulation). 

Example visualization of an adversary exploiting a data scraper vulnerability to maliciously influence a GenAI model during training or finetuning
Pro tip

Indirect prompt injections have also been discovered presenting a rather severe security risk to LLMs, whereby malicious prompts are created in requested content and either result in the redirection or misdirection of LLM activities. These methods can also be potentially used to gather sensitive user details for data exfiltration, execute malicious content, compromise the LLM model output or implement redirection of an unsuspecting LLM-enabled chat user to a malicious content.

Learn more

Mitigation:

  • Implement a routine for updating model parameters to fortify the model against attacks.

  • Employ ensemble methods to combine predictions from multiple models.

  • Conduct ethical hacking and penetration testing to proactively identify and address vulnerabilities in the AI system.

  • Establish continuous monitoring mechanisms to detect unusual patterns or deviations in model behavior.

5. Partial control over outputs

Why it matters:

Even with extensive testing and extended explainability, AI models can still return unexpected outputs that could be biased, unfair, or incorrect. Model developers only have partial control over outputs—and users can also intentionally or unintentionally prompt AI in irregular ways. 

Real-life attack scenarios:

An attacker could aim to create hyper-realistic fake content using your AI model to spread misinformation (deep fakes), or a malicious actor may try to inject bias in your model via input manipulation (content-bias injection). 

Mitigation:

  • Conduct bias audits on training data and model outputs using tools like Fairness Indicators.

  • Advocate for the implementation of bias-correction techniques, such as re-weighting or re-sampling, during model training.

  • Define and implement ethical internal guidelines for data collection and model development.

  • Promote transparency by sharing ethical guidelines for AI usage with users.

Pro tip

LLMs, combined with chat interfaces and software automation, enable attackers to:

-> Increase productivity — GenAI can help attackers create more attacks

-> Improve plausibility — GenAI applications can help discover and curate content from multiple sources to increase the trustworthiness of a lure and other fraudulent content (e.g., brand impersonation).

-> Enhance impersonation — GenAI can create more realistic human voices/video (deepfakes) that appear to be from a trusted source and could undermine identity verification and voice biometrics.

-> Introduce attack and malware polymorphism — Generative AI can be used to develop varied attacks, harder to detect than repacking polymorphism.

-> Enhance autonomy — LLMs can enable a higher level of autonomous local action decision or more automated command and control interactions, allowing malicious applications to operate an end-to-end attack life cycle until an attack goal is achieved.

-> Enhance future novel attack types — The worst possible security threat from GenAI would be the large-scale discovery of entirely new attack classes.

Learn more

6. Supply chain risks

Why they matter:

AI is heavily based on open-source datasets, models, and pipeline tools for which security controls can only be partially implemented. Vulnerabilities exploited in the supply chain can not only compromise the AI system but also extend to other production components. 

Real-life attack scenarios:

An attack could aim to tamper with/substitute model functionalities (model subversion) or attempt to introduce compromised datasets filled with adversarial data (tainted dataset injection). 

Mitigation:

  • Vet and validate datasets, models, and third-party AI integrations to ensure their security and integrity.

  • Implement secure communication channels and encryption for data exchange in the supply chain.

  • Establish clear contracts and agreements with suppliers that explicitly define AI security standards and expectations. 

7. Shadow AI

Why it matters:

The presence of unauthorized or unnoticed AI systems, commonly referred to as shadow AI, introduces undetectable vulnerabilities that don’t have corresponding mitigation strategies.

Real-life attack scenarios:

If an employee uses ChatGPT from their browser without adjusting privacy settings, sensitive or proprietary data could be used for model training by OpenAI. Employees may also use AI solutions that lack minimum security guarantees, introducing significant risks. 

Mitigation:

  • Create standardized operations for AI support within your organization to streamline the deployment and monitoring of AI systems.

  • Institute protocols for swiftly responding to and addressing any unauthorized AI deployment.

  • Conduct comprehensive education and training programs to ensure personnel are well-informed about the safe and authorized use of AI.

Protecting your AI applications with Wiz

As a key part of our mission to help organizations create secure cloud environments that accelerate their businesses, Wiz is the first cloud native application protection platform (CNAPP) to introduce a native and fully-integrated AI security offering. 

Our AI security posture management (AI-SPM) solution offers you a variety of automated security functionalities, including:

  • Management of an AI bill of materials (AI-BOM): The AI-BOM gives you full visibility over every AI service, technology, library, and SKD in your environment. Use it to discover your AI pipelines and detect shadow AI as soon as it’s introduced.

  • Assessment of AI pipeline risk: By testing your AI pipelines against known vulnerabilities, exposures, and other risks, AI-SPM allows you to uncover attack paths to your AI services with a focus on pipeline misconfigurations and detection of instances where sensitive data is used in training sets. 

  • Access to an AI security dashboard: Navigate your AI security posture through a dashboard that offers a consolidated view of security risks. Our dashboard provides a prioritized queue of contextualized risks for your AI pipelines, and it also lists vulnerabilities found in the most popular AI storage solutions and AI SDKs, such as OpenAI and Hugging Face. 

Wiz’s innovative approach to security provides end-to-end protection for your hybrid IT infrastructure, including robust safeguards for your AI systems. You can learn more by visiting the Wiz for AI webpage. If you prefer a live demo, we would love to connect with you.

Accelerate AI Innovation, Securely

Learn what makes Wiz the platform to enable your cloud security operation

Get a demo

Continue reading

Remote Code Execution Attacks Explained

Wiz Experts Team

Remote code execution refers to a security vulnerability through which malicious actors can remotely run code on your systems or servers.

Understanding Cloud Security Risks

Wiz Experts Team

A cloud security risk is any threat that might impact the confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA) of data and applications hosted in the cloud.

Cloud Sprawl Explained

Wiz Experts Team

Cloud sprawl is a phenomenon that involves the unmanaged growth of cloud-based resources and services.

CSPM vs DSPM: Why You Need Both

Wiz Experts Team

Discover the similarities between CSPM and DSPM, what factors set them apart, and which one is the best choice for your organization’s needs.

Container monitoring explained

Container monitoring is the process of collecting, analyzing, and reporting metrics and data related to the performance and health of containerized applications and their hosting environments.

Data Exfiltration Explained

Wiz Experts Team

Data exfiltration is when sensitive data is accessed without authorization or stolen. Just like any data breach, it can lead to financial loss, reputational damage, and business disruptions.