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Updated Nov 08, 2023

Do Free AI Tools Pose a Security Risk to Your Business?

AI tools like ChatGPT are all the rage. But are they safe?

Rebecca Neubauer, contributing writer
Rebecca Neubauer , Business Operations Insider and Senior Writer
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Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies like ChatGPT can be helpful tools that increase business efficiency and productivity, assisting with content creation, data analysis and much more. However, AI tools may also pose security risks with serious implications for businesses, including data breaches, privacy issues and copyright infringement. 

We’ll highlight popular free AI business tools, share potential security concerns and explain how to safeguard your business when using AI technologies. 

What free AI tools are small businesses using?

Many AI tools are free for small businesses. They perform various functions, from generating text and images to creating music and audio. Here are a few popular tools in use today:

  • ChatGPT: ChatGPT is a language processing tool that can help automate content creation. Many businesses use ChatGPT to quickly generate ideas and deliver answers to complex prompts, saving time and money. ChatGPT can also be “taught” to do advanced tasks like programming and data analysis. (Visit the OpenAI website to learn more about ChatGPT.)
  • Ai: Copy.ai is an AI tool that helps automate various content-creation tasks. It can help you improve your business blog content and help create social media posts and marketing copy, summarize text, and more. (Visit Copy.ai to learn more.)
  • Imagen: Imagen is a free AI tool from Google that helps businesses quickly generate high-quality visuals, such as corporate logos and images. You can also use Imagen for video creation and editing. (Visit Imagen to learn more.)
  • Supertone: Supertone is a South Korea-based intelligent audio platform that helps businesses create audio content like voiceovers, narrations and sound effects. It also has text-to-speech capabilities and can synthesize humanlike voices. (Visit Supertone.ai to learn more.)
  • Jitter: Jitter is a deep-learning AI platform that helps businesses quickly generate videos and animations. It can be used to create explainer videos, promotional clips and animations with ease. (Visit the Jitter website to learn more.)
Key TakeawayKey takeaway
AI is transforming businesses with tools that can create and optimize content in various formats. These tools can save businesses time, effort and money.

What security risks do free AI tools pose?

Despite AI tools’ many benefits, they carry inherent cybersecurity risks with potentially serious implications for businesses, including the following: 

1. AI tools pose data breach and privacy risks.

AI tools gather, store and process significant amounts of data. Without proper cybersecurity measures like antivirus software and secure file-sharing, vulnerable systems could be exposed to malicious actors who may be able to access sensitive data and cause serious damage. Data breaches and data privacy violations may occur.  

2. AI tools may be vulnerable to model poisoning and other attacks.

Model poisoning occurs when malicious data or code infiltrates an AI system. This type of attack can corrupt the system and cause it to produce erroneous or malicious results. 

Some AI tools, such as ChatGPT and similar chatbots, are more vulnerable to model poisoning, attacks and data breaches because of their open-source nature.

Did You Know?Did you know
Many people fear AI will take over their jobs, as organizations find themselves willing to use AI tools to cut business expenses.

3. AI tools can expose a business to plagiarism.

Plagiarism is among the most prominent risks associated with text-based AI tools. AI technology can generate content quickly, but it can’t create text that is 100 percent unique. 

If a business uses AI-generated content as its own without manual editing, it runs the risk of creating duplicate content that could be flagged as plagiarism.

4. AI tools can expose a business to copyright infringement.

AI image, audio and video generators may expose users to copyright infringement. AI tools source data from internet content to generate visuals, audio clips and videos. AI tools may inadvertently use copyrighted material without the content creator’s permission, resulting in potential legal consequences.

TipTip
To avoid copyright infringement in your business, always ask permission when using images in marketing materials or on social media, find royalty-free content, and link to the content you use on social media.

How can businesses mitigate AI security risks?

Software applications, security tools and security best practices can help businesses mitigate the risks of using AI tools for business. 

Software and security tools to safeguard against AI security risks

Consider the following software and security tools to prevent AI-related security risks: 

  • TrojAI Software Framework: TrojAI is a Python module developed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab to help detect AI model poisoning and other malware patterns. Its repository can be found on GitHub; businesses can use it to detect and eliminate malicious data from their systems. (Visit TrojAI to learn more.)
  • OpenAI Text Classifier: Developed by the team behind ChatGPT, OpenAI is a secure text classification tool that can detect whether content was generated by AI or a human. While it has its limitations, it’s considered more reliable and secure than other plagiarism checkers and text classification tools. (Visit the OpenAI AI classifier page to learn more.)
  • IBM Cloud Identity and Access Management: This management platform provides businesses with secure authentication services, multifactor authentication and encryption. It also helps protect against unauthorized access, data loss and malicious code injection. (Visit IBM’s cloud IAM solutions page to learn more.)

Best practices to mitigate AI security risks

While tools and software can help protect SMBs against AI risks, security best practices are also necessary to keep your business safe. 

Consider the following security tips and best practices:

  • Protect sensitive information. Be mindful of the information you input into AI software; it may potentially be vulnerable to data breaches.
  • Cross-check AI-generated content. Utilize manual input processes to cross-check generated content and detect plagiarism or copyright infringement. For example, use a plagiarism checker to determine if AI-generated content is taken directly from another source.
  • Educate your team on proper AI usage. Include effective employee training surrounding AI. Educate employees on the potential risks of AI tools, best practices for using them, and how to identify and report suspicious activity.
  • Consider paid AI tools. Consider investing in paid AI tools that offer better security and reliability than free ones.
  • Stay updated on AI risks. Stay up to date on the latest security trends and best practices to ensure your business is always protected.
  • Always handle data securely. Implement a strict data-handling and -storage policy, and use a secure authentication system to protect your data from malicious actors.
Did You Know?Did you know
Generative AI is among the small business tech trends expected to affect operations and disrupt industries in the coming years.

Stay ahead of AI’s inherent risks

It’s undeniable that AI will drive the future, and free AI tools can be beneficial in terms of convenience and cost-efficiency. However, AI tools have inherent risks, especially since AI and machine learning are still in their early stages of development.

By educating employees, investing in proper security measures, and implementing the right tools and policies, businesses can protect themselves from any potential security threats associated with using AI technology.

Rebecca Neubauer, contributing writer
Rebecca Neubauer , Business Operations Insider and Senior Writer
Rebecca Neubauer is a finance expert who became increasingly passionate about the subject while developing strategies to pay off $100,000 in student loan debt before opening her own small business. Neubauer now shares what she's learned with other entrepreneurs, breaking down complex business topics and teaching fellow business owners best practices for everyday operations and financial stability. Neubauer's business acumen and financial wisdom are apparent in her professional guidance, which has appeared in USA Today, Business Insider, GoBankingRates, Money.com, LendEDU and FinanceBuzz. She's provided advice on everything from the best billing software to how to calculate overtime, and especially enjoys working with small business owners in local communities.
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