‘Bug may have exposed payment-related info,’ ChatGPT reveals Monday outage reason

Mar 25, 2023 03:35 PM IST

OpenAI’s ChatGPT was down globally for a brief period on Monday. CEO Sam Altman explained the cause of the outage and provided details on the investigation.

A bug that caused the history of other users to appear in ChatGPT has been found and fixed, parent OpenAI confirmed, adding maintenance of the issue was the cause of global outage of the AI tool on Monday.

AI chatbot ChatGPT's server was down for several users on Monday.(REUTERS)
AI chatbot ChatGPT's server was down for several users on Monday.(REUTERS)

“We had a significant issue in ChatGPT due to a bug in an open source library, for which a fix has now been released and we have just finished validating,” chief executive officer of OpenAI Sam Altman tweeted on Thursday.

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Few users were able to look at the titles of other users' conversation histories as a result of the problem. Although the problem is resolved, users will not be able to retrieve their chat history of Monday 1 am PDT (1:30 pm as per Indian Standard Time) to 10 am PDT (10:30 pm IST).

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“We will follow up with a technical postmortem,” OpenAI boss added.

The investigation, according to OpenAI, showed that the chat title bug may have unintentionally exposed payment-related information for 1.2 percent of active ChatGPT Plus subscribers over the course of a specific nine-hour timeframe. Prior to OpenAI's decision to temporarily shut down ChatGPT on Monday, some users could see another user's first and last name, email address, payment address, the last four numbers of a credit card number, and credit card expiration date. The full credit card numbers, however, were never disclosed, maintained OpenAI.

“Open a subscription confirmation email sent on Monday, March 20, between 1 a.m. and 10 a.m. Pacific time. Due to the bug, some subscription confirmation emails generated during that window were sent to the wrong users. These emails contained the last four digits of another user’s credit card number, but full credit card numbers did not appear. It’s possible that a small number of subscription confirmation emails might have been incorrectly addressed prior to March 20, although we have not confirmed any instances of this,” OpenAI said in a blog post.

Although it is unclear whether any similar incidents occurred previous to March 20, OpenAI has notified affected users of this possible exposure. The company assures users that the bug has been fixed and that there is no longer any risk to data.

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