GPU Flaw Exposes AI Data on Millions of iPhones, MacBooks

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Researchers discovered a major vulnerability known as “LeftoverLocals,” which affects a wide range of devices, including iPhones, MacBooks, and laptops powered by AMD and Qualcomm CPUs. This issue jeopardizes the integrity of sensitive AI data stored in Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) memory, posing a serious risk to user privacy and security. Check out the details.

GPU security issue exposed

The vast list of compromised devices includes iPhones (including iPhone 12 Pro and newer), MacBooks with M1 and M2 CPUs, AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT graphics cards, and several smartphones and laptops powered by Qualcomm processors. 

LeftoverLocals exposes a variety of sensitive AI data, including AI models, training data, and intermediate computations used in on-device features like facial recognition, image processing, and natural language processing.

LeftoverLocals exploits a flaw in the memory allocation and deallocation procedures of GPUs. After AI applications use GPU memory, residual data or “leftovers” remain. Malicious software may use these leftovers to obtain unauthorized access to sensitive information. This involves stealing trained AI models, disclosing confidential training data, and intercepting ongoing AI computations.

While there is no indication of active exploitation, the implications of LeftoverLocals are considerable. Apple, AMD, and Qualcomm have all acknowledged the issue and are actively working on patches. Users are strongly encouraged to implement the following measures:

  1. Update Devices: Immediately install the most recent software updates. Apple has published iOS 16.3.1 and macOS Ventura 13.2.1 to solve LeftoverLocals, with AMD and Qualcomm patches anticipated shortly.
  2. Reduce AI App Usage: Until updates become widely available, users are advised to reduce their use of AI-powered features, particularly those involving sensitive data.
  3. Exercise Caution: Keep an eye out for strange activity on your devices and report any issues to the manufacturers.

Overall, the LeftoverLocals vulnerability emphasizes the essential importance of constant awareness and proactive security measures in the constantly expanding field of on-device AI. Users can help to reduce the risks associated with this and future vulnerabilities by staying aware, upgrading devices as soon as possible, and exercising caution.

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