Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC) 2023

Can Large Language Models Provide Security & Privacy Advice? Measuring the Ability of LLMs to Refute Misconceptions

Users seek security & privacy (S&P) advice from online resources, including trusted websites and content-sharing platforms. These resources help users understand S&P technologies and tools and suggest actionable strategies. Large Language Models (LLMs) have recently emerged as trusted information sources. However, their accuracy and correctness have been called into question. Prior research has outlined the shortcomings of LLMs in answering multiple-choice questions and user ability to inadvertently circumvent model restrictions (e.g., to produce toxic content). Yet, the ability of LLMs to provide reliable S&P advice is not well-explored. In this paper, we measure their ability to refute popular S&P misconceptions that the general public holds. We first study recent academic literature to curate a dataset of over a hundred S&Prelated misconceptions across six different topics. We then query two popular LLMs (Bard and ChatGPT) and develop a labeling guide to evaluate their responses to these misconceptions. To comprehensively evaluate their responses, we further apply three strategies: query each misconception multiple times, generate and query their paraphrases, and solicit source URLs of the responses. Both models demonstrate, on average, a 21.3% non-negligible error rate, incorrectly supporting popular S&P misconceptions. The error rate increases to 32.6% when we repeatedly query LLMs with the same or paraphrased misconceptions. We also expose that models may partially support a misconception or remain noncommittal, refusing a firm stance on misconceptions. Our exploration of information sources for responses revealed that LLMs are susceptible to providing invalid URLs (21.2% for Bard and 67.7% for ChatGPT) or point to unrelated sources (44.2% returned by Bard and 18.3% by ChatGPT). Our findings highlight that existing LLMs are not completely reliable for S&P advice and motivate future work in understanding how users can better interact with this technology.

Yufan Chen
Purdue University

Arjun Arunasalam
Purdue University

Z. Berkay Celik
Purdue University

Paper (ACM DL)