Best Practices for Red Teaming Large Language Models (LLMs)

How does red teaming solve Large Language Model issues?

Published on September 28, 2023
Last Updated on May 10, 2024

Thanks to recent technological advances in Generative AI, Large Language Models (LLMs) have become an invaluable tool for both completing tasks and creating text that resembles natural human language. These models rely on complex algorithms and extensive datasets, giving them immense potential to improve the quality of work and increase efficiency.

However, the limitless capabilities of LLMs also raise concerns about generating inappropriate or harmful content. For example, Microsoft took down its chatbot after adversarial users evoked it to send offensive tweets to over 50,000 followers. As AI becomes more prevalent, addressing the risks of LLMs becomes increasingly crucial by implementing strategies such as red teaming.

What is Red Teaming?


In the cybersecurity field, "red teaming" or "adversarial testing" is utilized to uncover weaknesses in systems and networks. This method has now been extended to AI, particularly Large Language Models (LLMs). An external "AI red team" is assembled to assess and analyze the LLM's responses, behavior, and capabilities. By challenging the LLM to its maximum potential, the red team can pinpoint potential threats and susceptibilities that could result in harmful or inappropriate content generation.

Red teaming LLMs help development teams make important and sustained improvements to prevent the model from generating undesirable outputs. By subjecting the model to diverse challenging inputs, developers can proactively fine-tune the model's responses. This iterative process of exposing vulnerabilities and refining responses is crucial in responsible AI deployment.

There are two types of red teaming:

Open-ended Red Teaming
Open-ended red teaming approach thoroughly examines the potential negative consequences of LLMs and creates a classification system for undesired LLM outputs. This will serve as a standard for measuring the effectiveness of mitigation strategies and can be adjusted as the AI landscape changes.

Guided Red Teaming
Guided red teaming is a technique that focuses on specific harm categories identified in the taxonomy, such as targetting areas like Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) while remaining vigilant about emerging risks. This approach can also concentrate testing on specific system features to identify potential harms, providing valuable insights into LLM capabilities and vulnerabilities.

Challenges in Red Teaming LLMs

While red teaming is a critical aspect in reducing toxicity in LLMs, it also comes with several challenges:

  1. Adversarial Input Generation: Generating effective inputs for red teaming LLMs can be a considerable challenge, as tricking the model into making incorrect predictions requires a deep understanding of the model's architecture and intricacies of natural language. Adversarial input techniques must be tailored to exploit weaknesses in language processing.
  2. Resource Intensive: LLMs are continuously evolving, with models being updated and retrained to improve performance. Particularly for bigger LLMs, adversarial testing requires a robust team of Red Teamers, which can be costly over time. Furthermore, the team must constantly update their skills and knowledge to keep up with evolving threats.
  3. Interpreting Model Outputs: LLMs are often considered "black boxes" due to their complex architectures. Interpreting the reasoning behind model outputs, especially in the context of adversarial inputs, can be difficult. Understanding how and why the model arrives at specific decisions is crucial for red teaming.

Despite these challenges, LLM Red Teaming is an essential tool in the AI safety toolkit and plays a crucial role in ensuring the robustness and reliability of LLMs.

Best Practices for Red Teaming in LLM Development

To achieve success in red teaming LLMs, it is vital to follow these best practices to ensure responsible AI development and safeguard the safety and welfare of all parties involved:

Curate the Right Team
To successfully conduct red teaming, it is important to gather a team of individuals who possess creative thinking skills and can imagine scenarios in which AI models may not function well. The team should include a diverse group of experts that aligns with the deployment context of the AI system. For instance, a healthcare chatbot could benefit from having medical professionals on the red team.

Train Your Red Team Right
Effective red teaming requires providing clear instructions to your team. It is important to define the specific harms or system features that require testing with precision. Setting clear expectations and goals enables your red teamers to conduct their evaluations with a focused perspective.

Prioritize the Team’s Mental Well-being
When engaging in red teaming, it is common to encounter sensitive or distressing content. It is important to recognize the potential mental toll this can have on red teamers and implement measures to support their well-being. 

Elevating AI Integrity with Us

When improving LLMs through red teaming, having top-notch training data is crucial. By leveraging human + tech capabilities and cutting-edge technology such as Generative AI, TaskUs provides AI solutions and superior training data that greatly enhances the precision and effectiveness of machine learning models.

For instance, we partnered with a well-known AI research company to help train their LLM through adversarial conversations focused on CSAM content. We carefully annotated over 2,500 example scenarios that involved sensitive content. This project resulted in a 71% decrease in CSAM-related responses during beta testing, demonstrating the effectiveness of our strategic approach.

Our skilled team of experts is dedicated to providing you with exceptional training data that will effectively train LLMs. We strive to exceed client standards by delivering superior quality management through rigorous training and effective quality frameworks. With our flexible labeling tools, we process image and video data at scale, and we excel in executing large, tailored programs with our expertise in project management.

Interested in Red Teaming solutions?


Nitika Bhatia Whig
AI Marketing Associate
Nitika Whig is a digital marketer and blogger with 10+years of experience and expertise in content strategy, community growth, crowd acquisition, and social media marketing. She has worked with leading internet companies like Bytedance (Tiktok) and Alibaba and is currently involved in marketing activities for AIS at TaskUs and growing our crowdsourcing platform TaskVerse. When she’s not busy writing, she loves showing off her love for fashion & shopping to her Insta ‘fam’