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AI Worms That Spread

Cornell Tech researchers have created a generative AI worms which can spread from one system to another, potentially stealing data or deploying malware in the process. "It basically means that now you have the ability to conduct or to perform a new kind of cyberattack that hasn't been seen before," says Ben Nassi, a Cornell Tech researcher behind the research.

To create the generative AI worm, the researchers turned to a so-called "adversarial self-replicating prompt." This is a prompt that triggers the generative AI model to output, in its response, another prompt, the researchers say. In short, the AI system is told to produce a set of further instructions in its replies... To show how the worm can work, the researchers created an email system that could send and receive messages using generative AI, plugging into ChatGPT, Gemini, and open source LLM, LLaVA. They then found two ways to exploit the system by using a text-based self-replicating prompt and by embedding a self-replicating prompt within an image file.

(Via Slashdot.)

Science fiction fans know that the term "worm" and the idea of a computer program or code that transfers itself from one system to another was created by sf writer John Brunner in his 1975 novel The Shockwave Rider:

He sent a retaliatory worm chasing Fluckner's. That should take care of the immediate problem in three to thirty minutes, depending on whether or not he beat the inevitable Monday morning circuit overload. According to recent report, there were so many worms and counterworms loose in the data-net now, the machines had been instructed to give them low priority unless they related to a medical emergency.
(Read more about John Brunner's Computer Worm (Tapeworm) ).

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AI Worms That Spread
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