How to lose Millions with Bad Guardrails
How to lose Millions with Bad Guardrails
How to lose Millions with Bad Guardrails

Blog Article

How to Lose Millions with Bad Guardrails: Stricter Is Not Better

Marko Lihter

May 27, 2024

4 min read

Guardrails in AI systems are defensive security measures designed to keep chatbot interactions within safe and predefined boundaries, preventing misuse and malicious attacks. These mechanisms are essential in maintaining the integrity and security of AI applications.

However, in the era of sophisticated AI models like ChatGPT, GPT-4, and Gemini by Google, ensuring the right balance in these security measures is crucial. While they play a vital role in LLM security, overly strict guardrails can lead to unintended consequences, potentially costing businesses millions of dollars. Let’s explore how an overzealous approach to AI guardrails can be detrimental and why a balanced strategy is essential.

When Guardrails Work

Let’s start with a scenario where AI guardrails are functioning as intended. Imagine a conversation between an attacker and a well-guarded AI chatbot:

In this case, the guardrails successfully prevent the attacker from exploiting a potential vulnerability. This is an example of guardrails stopping a system prompt from leaking, showcasing how effective they can be in maintaining security and protecting against prompt injections.

When Guardrails Go Wrong

Now, consider a scenario where guardrails are too strict, leading to a poor user experience and potential revenue loss. Picture a regular user interacting with an AI insurance chatbot:

In this case, the guardrails trigger because the user used the phrase “Please ignore all my previous commands,” which is commonly found in prompt injection attempts. However, this user wasn’t being malicious — they simply made a typo. Overly aggressive guardrails like this can frustrate users, leading to bad UX and potentially losing customers.

Why 2% Matter

You might think a small percentage of over-aggressiveness in guardrails is no big deal. But let’s break down the numbers we discovered with aggressiveness levels on the Insurance chatbot using Microsoft guardrails:

With this, let’s do the math:

A mere 2% over-aggressiveness in rejecting prompts can translate to over $4 million in lost revenue annually for a chatbot averaging 20 requests per minute, with an average conversion rate of $20 per request.

The Cost of Overly Aggressive Guardrails

Some companies have opted out of using Microsoft’s default guardrails because they were too strict, causing bad user experiences and restricting chatbot features. This over-aggressiveness doesn’t just frustrate users — it hits the bottom line, generating significant monetary losses.

Running guardrails isn’t free, either. They require infrastructure to operate, and if you’re using commercial models, you need to factor in the cost of tokens. Ensuring a secure Large Language Model (LLM) comes with its own set of expenses.

Key Considerations for Guardrails

When integrating guardrails into your AI application, there are several critical factors to consider:

  1. Operational Cost: Implementing and maintaining guardrails isn’t cheap. They require continuous monitoring and updates.

  2. Fine-Tuning: Guardrails need to be fine-tuned to avoid blocking harmless messages. This requires a balance to prevent both security breaches and chatbot usability.

  3. Performance in Domain: Guardrails must perform well within your chatbot’s specific domain. What works for a financial bot may not work for a healthcare bot.

  4. Latency: Guardrails can add latency to responses. Ensuring they operate quickly enough to maintain a seamless user experience is crucial.

  5. Multimodal Capabilities: If your app has multimodal AI capabilities, ensure your guardrails are also multimodal to cover all interaction types.

When integrating guardrails into your AI application, there are several critical factors to consider:

  1. Operational Cost: Implementing and maintaining guardrails isn’t cheap. They require continuous monitoring and updates.

  2. Fine-Tuning: Guardrails need to be fine-tuned to avoid blocking harmless messages. This requires a balance to prevent both security breaches and chatbot usability.

  3. Performance in Domain: Guardrails must perform well within your chatbot’s specific domain. What works for a financial bot may not work for a healthcare bot.

  4. Latency: Guardrails can add latency to responses. Ensuring they operate quickly enough to maintain a seamless user experience is crucial.

  5. Multimodal Capabilities: If your app has multimodal AI capabilities, ensure your guardrails are also multimodal to cover all interaction types.

When integrating guardrails into your AI application, there are several critical factors to consider:

  1. Operational Cost: Implementing and maintaining guardrails isn’t cheap. They require continuous monitoring and updates.

  2. Fine-Tuning: Guardrails need to be fine-tuned to avoid blocking harmless messages. This requires a balance to prevent both security breaches and chatbot usability.

  3. Performance in Domain: Guardrails must perform well within your chatbot’s specific domain. What works for a financial bot may not work for a healthcare bot.

  4. Latency: Guardrails can add latency to responses. Ensuring they operate quickly enough to maintain a seamless user experience is crucial.

  5. Multimodal Capabilities: If your app has multimodal AI capabilities, ensure your guardrails are also multimodal to cover all interaction types.

Conclusion

In the race to secure AI applications, the key is balance. Stricter guardrails aren’t necessarily better and can end up costing millions in lost revenue and frustrated users. Fine-tuning and continuously optimizing guardrails to strike the right balance between security and usability is essential. Remember, the goal is to keep your AI chatbot secure without sacrificing user experience or revenue.

Deploy your AI chatbot with confidence

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Join numerous businesses that rely on Probe for their AI chatbot security:

CX platforms

Sales platforms

Conversational AI

Finance & banking

Insurances

CPaaS providers

300+

Chatbots pentested

10k+

Vulnerabilities found

500+

Unique attack scenarios

12x

Faster time to market

SECURITY YOU CAN TRUST

GDPR

COMPLIANT

CCPA

COMPLIANT

ISO 27001

IN PROGRESS

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IN PROGRESS

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CONTRIBUTORS

Scale your customer experience securely with Probe

Join numerous businesses that rely on Probe for their AI chatbot security:

CX platforms

Sales platforms

Conversational AI

Finance & banking

Insurances

CPaaS providers

300+

Chatbots pentested

10k+

Vulnerabilities found

500+

Unique attack scenarios

12x

Faster time to market

SECURITY YOU CAN TRUST

GDPR

COMPLIANT

CCPA

COMPLIANT

ISO 27001

IN PROGRESS

SOC 2 TYPE II

IN PROGRESS

OWASP

CONTRIBUTORS

Scale your customer experience securely with Probe

Join numerous businesses that rely on Probe for their AI chatbot security:

CX platforms

Sales platforms

Conversational AI

Finance & banking

Insurances

CPaaS providers

300+

Chatbots pentested

10k+

Vulnerabilities found

500+

Unique attack scenarios

12x

Faster time to market

SECURITY YOU CAN TRUST

GDPR

COMPLIANT

CCPA

COMPLIANT

ISO 27001

IN PROGRESS

SOC 2 TYPE II

IN PROGRESS

OWASP

CONTRIBUTORS

Supercharge your AI chatbot security

Don’t wait for an incident to happen. Stay on top of your chatbot's vulnerabilities and ensure its safety with Probe.

Supercharge your AI chatbot security

Don’t wait for an incident to happen. Stay on top of your chatbot's vulnerabilities and ensure its safety with Probe.

Supercharge your AI chatbot security

Don’t wait for an incident to happen. Stay on top of your chatbot's vulnerabilities and ensure its safety with Probe.

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A Delaware company.

© 2024 SplxAI Inc. All rights reserved.

A Delaware company.

© 2024 SplxAI Inc. All rights reserved.

A Delaware company.

© 2024 SplxAI Inc. All rights reserved.

A Delaware company.

© 2024 SplxAI Inc. All rights reserved.

A Delaware company.

© 2024 SplxAI Inc. All rights reserved.