ChatGPT Mac App Stored User Chats in Plain Text Prior to Latest Update

OpenAI has issued an update to its ChatGPT app for Mac, after a developer discovered the app was locally storing users' conversations with the chatbot in plain text.

2chatgpt mac app
Pedro José Pereira Vieito told The Verge's Jay Peters: "I was curious about why OpenAI opted out of using the app sandbox protections and ended up checking where they stored the app data."

That led Pereira Vieito to develop "ChatGPTStealer," a simple app to demonstrate how easy it is to load the chats in a text window outside of the ChatGPT app. After successfully trying out the app for himself, Peters said he was also able to see the text of conversations on his computer just by changing the file name, indicating the extent of the privacy risk.

The ChatGPT Mac app is available solely through OpenAI's website, which is why it has not been obligated to follow Apple's sandboxing requirements that apply to software distributed via the Mac App Store. The oversight basically meant any other running app or process could potentially access the ChatGPT conversations without prompting the user for permission.


After The Verge contacted OpenAI about the issue, the company released an update that it says encrypts the chats. "We are aware of this issue and have shipped a new version of the application which encrypts these conversations," OpenAI spokesperson Taya Christianson told the website. "We're committed to providing a helpful user experience while maintaining our high security standards as our technology evolves."

After downloading the update (v1.2024.171), Pereira Vieito's app no longer works, and Peters said he was no longer able to see his conversations with the chatbot in plain text.

Tag: ChatGPT

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Top Rated Comments

Plutonius Avatar
2 weeks ago
It seems like I hear that excuse a lot from different companies that screw up and are caught :).
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zilchfox Avatar
2 weeks ago
Makes you wonder how they store prompt history on the web-based version.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
phenste Avatar
2 weeks ago
remind me again why sandboxing on the Mac App Store is bad? ?

makes me wonder if distribution of the ChatGPT app across Apple platforms was discussed during their deal. kinda surprised Apple wouldn’t strong-arm them into a Mac App Store release of the app so as to fully comply with Apple’s security standards.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
vkd Avatar
2 weeks ago
Aside from being a massive security risk, this so-called Artificial Intelligence is nothing more than a disguised coup to manipulate public opinion, censor free thought by eliminating what they consider to be opposed to their desired schematic and also ultimately to insidiously monitor everybody's activity. Of course they will profess otherwise and efforts will be seen to create privacy, but as we see in these initial stages, first with Microsoft and now others including this, their prime intentions are not security based, our privacy is not something that they give a fig for. Otherwise, how could Microsoft even dream of putting into public space such a massive data collection facility as was their Copilot v1.0?
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chiromac81 Avatar
2 weeks ago
"im shocked!!"

Said no one ever
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Squuiid Avatar
2 weeks ago
One has to wonder about the security posture of everything else they do. This was careless and sloppy.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)