SSL Orchestrator Advanced Use Cases: Detecting Generative AI


Quick, take a look at the following list and answer this question: "What do these movies have in common?"

If you answered, "They're all about artificial intelligence", yes, but...

If you answered, "They're all about artificial intelligence that went terribly, sometimes horribly wrong", you'd be absolutely correct. The simple fact is...artificial intelligence (AI) can be scary. Proponents for, and opponents against will disagree on many aspects, but they can all at least acknowledge there's a handful of ways to do AI correctly...and a million ways to do it badly. Not to be an alarmist, but while SkyNet was fictional, semi-autonomous guns on robot dogs is not...

But then why am I talking about this on a technical forum you may ask? Well, when most of the above films were made, AI was largely still science fiction. That's clearly not the case anymore, and tools like ChatGPT are just the tip of the coming AI frontier. To be fair, I don't make the claim that all AI is bad, and many have indeed lauded ChatGPT and other generative AI tools as the next great evolution in technology. But it's also fair to say that generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, have a very real potential to cause harm. At the very least, these tools can be convincing, even when they're wrong. And worse, they could lead to sensitive information disclosures. One only has to do a cursory search to find a few examples of questionable behavior:

But again...what does this have to do with a technical forum? And more important, what does this have to do with you? Simply stated, if you are in an organization where generative AI tools could be abused, understanding, and optionally controlling how and when these tools are accessed, could help to prevent the next big exploit or disclosure. If you search beyond the above links, you'll find an abundance of information on both the benefits, and security concerns of AI technologies. And ultimately you'll still be left to decide if these AI tools are safe for your organization. It may simply be worthwhile to understand WHAT tools are being used. And in some cases, it may be important to disable access to these.

Given the general depth and diversity of AI functions within arms-reach today, and growing, it'd be irresponsible to claim "complete awareness". The bulk of these functions are delivered over standard HTTPS, so the best course of action will be to categorize on known assets, and adjust as new ones come along. As of the publishing of this article, the industry has yet to define a standard set of categories for AI, and specifically, generative AI. So in this article, we're going to build one and attach that to F5 BIG-IP SSL Orchestrator to enable proactive detection and optional control of Internet-based AI tool access in your organization. Let's get started!

BIG-IP SSL Orchestrator Use Case: Detecting Generative AI

The real beauty of this solution is that it can be implemented faster than it probably took to read the above introduction. Essentially, you're going to create a custom URL category on F5 BIG-IP, populate that with known generative AI URLs, and employ that custom category in a BIG-IP SSL Orchestrator security policy rule. Within that policy rule, you can elect to dynamically decrypt and send the traffic to the set of inspection products in your security enclave.

  • Step 1: Create the custom URL category and populate with known AI URLs - Access the BIG-IP command shell and run the following command. This will initiate a script that creates and populates the URL category:
curl -s |bash
  • Step 2: Create a BIG-IP SSL Orchestrator policy rule to use this data - The above script creates/re-populates a custom URL category named SSLO_GENERATIVE_AI_CHAT, and in that category is a set of known generative AI URLs. To use, navigate to the BIG-IP SSL Orchestrator UI and edit a Security Policy. Click add to create a new rule, use the "Category Lookup (All)" policy condition, then add the above URL category. Set the Action to "Allow", SSL Proxy Action to "Intercept", and Service Chain to whatever service chain you've already created.

With Summary Logging enabled in the BIG-IP SSL Orchestrator topology configuration, you'll also get Syslog reporting for each AI resource match - who made the request, to what, and when.

The URL category is employed here to identify known AI tools. In this instance, BIG-IP SSL Orchestrator is used to make that assessment and act on it (i.e. allow, TLS intercept, service chain, log). Should you want even more granular control over conditions and actions of the decrypted AI tool traffic, you can also deploy an F5 Secure Web Gateway Services policy inside the SSL Orchestrator service chain. With SWG, you can expand beyond simple detection and blocking, and build more complex rules to decide who can access, when, and how.

It should be said that beyond logging, allowing, or denying access to generative AI tools, SSL Orchestrator is also going to provide decryption and the opportunity to dynamically steer the decrypted AI traffic to any set of security products best suited to protect against any potential malware. 


As previously alluded, this is not an exhaustive list of AI tool URLs. Not even close. But it contains the most common you'll see in the wild. The above script populates with an initial list of URLs that you are free to update as you become aware of new one. And of course we invite you to recommend additional AI tools to add to this list. 











Updated Aug 14, 2023
Version 2.0

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