Sezzle - FInTech Tracker - September 2023

Hackers: OpenAI’s Ties to Israel Led to ChatGPT Attack

A hacking group with reported ties to Russia has claimed credit for attacking ChatGPT.

The reason? The generative artificial intelligence (AI) tool’s parent company’s support for Israel amid that country’s war against Hamas.

The group, dubbed Anonymous Sudan, published a post on its Telegram page Wednesday (Nov. 8) titled “Some reasons why we targeted OpenAI and ChatGPT.” It was published hours after a short but “major” outage hamstrung ChatGPT on Wednesday morning.

Among the group’s reasons are “OpenAI’s cooperation with the occupation state of Israel and the CEO of OpenAI saying he’s willing to invest into Israel more.”

PYMNTS has contacted OpenAI for comment but has not yet received a reply.

The post also argues that AI is being used by intelligence agencies like Israel’s Mossad, and that Israel “employs AI to further oppress the Palestinians.”

In addition, Anonymous Sudan claims that ChatGPT has “general biases towards Israel and against Palestine.” 

Lastly, the group says, “OpenAI is an American company, and we still are targeting any American company.”

A report by Bloomberg News on Thursday (Nov. 9) says that while Anonymous Sudan purports to be a group of Africa-based hackers fighting against oppression against Muslims, cybersecurity researchers believe the group is linked to Russia, as its targets tend to match Moscow’s geopolitical goals.

The current conflict in Israel was triggered last month by an attack by the militant group Hamas. So far, the war has killed nearly 11,000 Palestinians, including more than 4,400 children, according to the Gaza health ministry, an agency of the Hamas-run government.

More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, primarily during Hamas attacks, with 239 people taken hostage by Hamas.

Anonymous Sudan’s actions come as countries are taking a hard line against hackers, particularly those who carry out ransomware attacks.

Last week, a 40-nation alliance led by the U.S. called the International Counter Ransomware Initiative pledged to stop paying hackers amid an increasing number of these attacks, which get their name from the ransom a hacker demands after encrypting a company’s systems, with victims forced to pay money to get their information unlocked.

Anne Neuberger, the White House’s deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technologies, told reporters that the U.S. is the biggest target for such cases, with 46% of ransomware attackers going after Americans.

“As long as there is money flowing to ransomware criminals, this is a problem that will continue to grow,” she said.