Different trends keep coming and going in the mercurial digital world. Some stick around, and some last as long as a tantrum. Chatbots are one of those trends that have evolved into a generalized adoption. With all their annoyance, chatbots are here to stay, triggering the need to adopt subsequent security measures to prevent cyber threats.
As these chatbots become the standard “welcoming” gate between us and any given company’s customer support, more and more among us seem doomed to interact with them daily on our tablets, phones, computers, even with our smart TVs and other devices in some cases.
The value chatbots have for companies is apparent. The advanced degree of artificial intelligence chatbots nowadays boast uses natural language and machine learning to achieve automation, something impossible a few years ago, saving a lot of time and money.
However, whenever a new trend shows up, it brings along a new concern: how security-friendly is it? What are the best practices to adopt with the new thing security-wise? In today’s internet, security, privacy, and anonymity are paramount values for any user that is at least marginally aware of the information we’ve learned from Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. This article will try to shed some light on these issues.
Why is chatbot security important?
Chatbots can collect and convey sensitive data, personal or business. Therefore, security must be a vital priority as system implementation progresses. But on the other hand, Chatbots can save a company a lot of money and considerably improve its client experience if done correctly — when they are designed securely from the beginning.
AI solutions allow a company to automate processes that previously needed the human element. It’s also suitable for providing answers to individual questions. Indeed, plenty of chatbots are little more than glorified interactive FAQs, and that’s enough for their users on either side. But others are more sophisticated and provide more than answers to specific queries.
As chatbots are becoming the internet’s new plague, we need to integrate them into the user experience securely. The measures a company can adopt in this regard are many and relatively simple. And the thing to realize is that everybody wins as chatbots become secure.
Security issues with chatbots
AI solutions are finally becoming commercial products. The systems currently deployed were pure science fiction only a few years ago. However, they can now imitate human speech to a degree and communicate successfully with customers.
Such systems are not cheap. Instead, coming up with one such system requires expertise and resource availability, making it very difficult for hackers to come up with theirs. That’s why malicious chatbots are hard to come by so far -however, that could only last for a short period. Time will tell.
Hacker exploitation is the first thing to worry about in chatbot security. Whenever a new trend or technology surfaces online, hackers start figuring out ways to harness its power for their purposes. Criminal hackers can deploy chatbots that persuade users to give away sensitive information or trick them into clicking a malicious link. These bots look normal, but they don’t help you. Instead, they get your personal and corporate information.
Internet users can protect themselves from these malicious chatbots by filtering their local traffic to exclude malicious activities. They can do this using cloud-based security suites, DNS firewalls, or a network filter that blocks IP addresses on a blocklist of known offenders.
But some security vulnerabilities also exist that can affect a chatbot while having nothing to do with malicious bots. The first issue is when a system’s methods are compromised. Other vulnerabilities in chatbots arise from the human element, defective coding, and inadequate security practices. Unfortunately, these problems can’t be corrected by simply deploying a patch. Instead, they require a preventive approach incorporating Security Development Lifecycle into the development process.
And the other type of security issues come from external threats like DDoS attacks, repudiation, spoofing, and other known techniques.
How can you ensure chatbot security
In the digital security area, two principles always hold: no solution is 100% effective, and you always start by getting the basics right. So what are the basics, we hear you ask? These:
- Implementation of network security protocols.
- Self-destructing messages.
- Tight identity, access, and privileges management.
- End-to-end encryption.
- Two-factor access when available.
Those five measures are basic security standards. They require little effort, but their preventive nature makes the resulting increase in security significant.
And then, those security measures must have the following best practices for chatbot security.