Critical Vulnerability in Replicate AI Platform: Risks and Mitigation

In a significant security development, researchers at Wiz uncovered a critical vulnerability within the Replicate AI platform, potentially exposing proprietary data and underscoring the challenges of protecting customer information in AI-as-a-service environments. This vulnerability allowed for the execution of a malicious AI model within the platform, risking the compromise of private AI models and the exposure of sensitive data.

Background and Discovery is a platform designed to facilitate the sharing, deployment, and interaction with AI models. The platform allows users to browse existing models, upload their own, and fine-tune these models for specific use cases. However, these features also introduce significant security risks.

The vulnerability was identified by Wiz researchers during a collaboration with AI-as-a-service providers to evaluate platform security. This discovery in Replicate, similar to an earlier vulnerability found in the Hugging Face platform, highlights the persistent difficulty of ensuring tenant separation in environments that permit AI models from untrusted sources.

Technical Details

The vulnerability was discovered when Wiz researchers created a malicious Cog container—a proprietary format used by Replicate to containerize AI models. By uploading this container to the platform, they gained root privileges, allowing them to execute arbitrary code on Replicate’s infrastructure.

Remote Code Execution

Replicate employs the Cog format to containerize AI models, incorporating necessary dependencies and libraries while bundling a RESTful HTTP API server for seamless inference. This containerization process results in a container image that users can upload to the Replicate platform for interaction. Wiz researchers exploited this system by creating a malicious Cog container that, once uploaded, granted them remote code execution (RCE) capabilities on Replicate’s infrastructure.

Lateral Movement

Upon securing RCE, the researchers began probing the environment and discovered they were operating within a pod inside a Kubernetes cluster hosted on Google Cloud Platform (GCP). By leveraging their network capabilities, they discovered an established TCP connection handled by a process in a different PID namespace, indicating a shared network namespace with another container.

Using tcpdump, the researchers examined the TCP connection and identified it as a plaintext Redis protocol. Redis is an open-source, in-memory data structure store used as a database, cache, and message broker. By performing a reverse DNS lookup, they confirmed it was indeed a Redis instance. This Redis server was operating a queue for managing customer requests, making it a target for a cross-tenant data access attack.

Exploiting Redis

Although the Redis server required authentication, the researchers had access to an authenticated, plaintext, active session. They used rshijack, a utility for TCP injection, to inject arbitrary packets into the existing TCP connection, bypassing the authentication process.

By injecting a Lua script, the researchers modified an item in the Redis queue, altering the webhook field to redirect to their rogue API server. This allowed them to intercept and modify prediction inputs and outputs, demonstrating their ability to manipulate AI behavior and compromise decision-making processes.

Impact and Risks

The exploitation of this vulnerability posed significant risks to both the Replicate platform and its users. An attacker could query private AI models, exposing proprietary knowledge or sensitive data involved in model training. Additionally, intercepting prompts could reveal sensitive data, including personally identifiable information (PII).

Altering AI model prompts and responses undermines the integrity of AI-driven outputs, potentially compromising automated decision-making processes. This manipulation can have far-reaching consequences, particularly in sectors reliant on accurate AI predictions, such as finance and healthcare.

Mitigation and Recommendations

Replicate promptly addressed the vulnerability following its responsible disclosure by Wiz in January 2023, ensuring no customer data was compromised. However, this incident highlights the need for enhanced security measures to protect against malicious AI models.

Use of Secure AI Formats

A key recommendation is the adoption of secure formats, such as safetensors, for production workloads. Safetensors are designed to prevent attackers from taking over AI model instances, significantly reducing the attack surface. Security teams should monitor for the use of unsafe models and collaborate with AI teams to transition to secure formats.

Strict Tenant Isolation Practices

Cloud providers running customer models in shared environments should enforce stringent tenant isolation practices. This ensures that even if a malicious model is executed, it cannot access the data of other customers or the service itself. Tenant isolation involves segregating each tenant’s data and processes to prevent unauthorized access across different tenants.


The discovery of this vulnerability in the Replicate AI platform underscores the necessity for rigorous security measures in AI-as-a-service platforms. Malicious AI models present a significant risk, and ensuring the security of these platforms requires continuous collaboration between security researchers and platform developers.

By implementing the recommended security practices and adopting secure formats, AI-as-a-service providers can enhance their security posture and better protect their customers’ data.

How Can Netizen Help?

Netizen ensures that security gets built-in and not bolted-on. Providing advanced solutions to protect critical IT infrastructure such as the popular “CISO-as-a-Service” wherein companies can leverage the expertise of executive-level cybersecurity professionals without having to bear the cost of employing them full time. 

We also offer compliance support, vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, and more security-related services for businesses of any size and type. 

Additionally, Netizen offers an automated and affordable assessment tool that continuously scans systems, websites, applications, and networks to uncover issues. Vulnerability data is then securely analyzed and presented through an easy-to-interpret dashboard to yield actionable risk and compliance information for audiences ranging from IT professionals to executive managers.

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