Chatbots are familiar technological advancements used by public agencies and private businesses to help with their customer service department. It’s that chat feature pop-up that appears mostly on the lower right corner of a website asking “How can I help you today?”
Businesses rip numerous benefits when they have adopted communication tools like chatbots. Some benefits businesses are reducing the customer service expenses, lessening the sales cycle, and managing incoming inquiries.
As we continue to embrace the latest digital technology, platforms like chatbots are rapidly developing, giving options for other industries to use in their organizations. It lessens manual tasks and gets to understand customers well with their queries.
Chatbots may sound great because this communication/messaging platform does hold valuable customer information, but where there is customer data, it is prone to cybercriminal attacks.
If you are using a chatbot as part of your business website, you have to consider protecting it from threats. There are ways businesses and websites can manage their chatbot security.
Understanding chatbots and the attacks they often encounter will give you an overview of how you can protect the data within this technology.
What are Chatbots?
A chatbot is a software or program that can imitate a human conversation through a message or call.
Chatbots have artificial intelligence within their system to understand human questions and answer correctly. They are often used on online shopping websites, bank websites, and any public and private websites.
Chatbots used to answer simple questions, but now, they can even respond to complex questions orally. They even use a personalized approach when dealing with individual customers.
They respond similarly to humans, but faster. That’s why 87.2% of consumers are receptive to using chatbots, according to Drift.
Benefits and Use of Chatbots
Unlike humans who need some time off to take a break and rest, chatbots don’t require one. Instead, they are ready to provide quick answers any time of the day. This will improve the customers’ satisfaction since they don’t have to wait around for answers or replies.
Reduce Time Spent for Human-to-Human Interaction
Employees can dedicate their time to important calls or matters instead of dealing with simple queries. This can lead to better service to customers and get the job faster.
Assists Customers on their Buying Journey
Providing a smooth and stress-free purchasing journey for your customers will help prevent losing prospects. AI chatbots can help customers anytime and anywhere on the website. It will pop up on pages offering discounts, more information about the product, and so on.
Target the Right Customer
Chatbots can make it easier to spread marketing messages. It helps optimize customer communication and generates better brand trust by reducing tedious activities and unnecessary cold calls. In addition, it collects valuable customer data on consumer actions, interests, and purchasing habits during this process.
The data will help advertise new products and services to target the appropriate people with the right offer at the right moment.
Monitors Consumer Data
Consumer data is vital for all businesses. It helps companies market their products and services in different ways to reach their target audience.
When using chatbots, companies can collect data like purchasing patterns, customer behaviors, and feedback, then use these to improve their website and the services they offer.
Lead generation marketing is one of the most difficult strategies to implement. However, technologies like chatbots can improve lead generation by effectively engaging customers with personalized messaging and content. They provide suggestions and answers, helping customers make quick decisions to avoid sudden changes in their minds.
Companies can create a preset questionnaire on their AI chatbots to gain leads and better conversion rates.
Why Do Chatbots Get Attacked?
Chatbot security is often forgotten because most businesses don’t think of hackers spending their time getting into chatbots to collect data. However, chatbots do get attacked but not as much as we read about them.
Hackers like to target chatbots for the following reasons:
- Due to automation, most admins don’t check on them. Hence, they are left unguarded from prying eyes.
- Consumers easily trust chatbots, so if they provide them with a link to sign up to, people will not think twice to do it.
Without continuous monitoring and better security on chatbot systems, it will be easy for hackers to get valuable information out of it.
Chatbot Security Risks
There are two categories of risks chatbots encounter, threats, and vulnerabilities.
Security threats are one-off events that compromise the organization’s system. Threats like malware, DDoS attacks, and ransomware are common attacks encountered by businesses that can steal or expose their valuable data.
Vulnerabilities, on the other hand, are weaknesses in a system that cybercriminals exploit to gain access. System vulnerabilities include weak coding, lack of updated driver on the hardware, weak firewall, and more. Cybercriminals use these weak spots to gain privilege into the system.
Chatbot Security: How to Protect Your Customer Data
Create Separate Accounts
Creating separate accounts for the chatbot with equal access levels in all applications is the best option than using existing clients’ credentials. In automated business operations, there should be separate accounts to sign in and only use specified accounts. The primary advantage is that it protects employees’ credentials.
To ensure better inspection and transparency, it’s also a good idea to separate the consumers’ activities from the chatbot’s operations. This will aid in the development of a robust security framework for chatbots and the protection of sensitive data.
Automatic Deletion of Messages
Conversations in chatbots are short, they often end once the consumers get what they need. The best way to protect information shared by the customer is to erase the content immediately. Admins can set how long a chat conversation can linger.
Besides protecting your customers by destructing their messages, you can also protect your business from possible violations.
End-to-end encryption means securing the communication between the receiver and the sender. Furthermore, encryption can also mean keeping data unreadable to unauthorized individuals even when at rest.
Using encryption on your data can prevent hackers from reading the information stored even though they have accessed the content. It even prevents cybercriminals from using the data for financial gain or selling on the dark web.
The only way for hackers to read the data is to get their hands on the decoding key.
Authentication or confirmation of a user’s identity is not always required, especially when a user requests help with the chatbot. However, when a user wants to access their data, such as personal information or account balances, authentication and authorization are required. They must have valid and secure login credentials. This permission guarantees that only the appropriate individual gets access to the data and services they need.
Furthermore, using a security token or limiting time can help protect the information within the chatbot’s system; an example would be when a consumer leaves the chat or takes a call it will end the session.
An addition of two-factor authentication can also add another layer of security. This will prevent hackers from further gaining access to the user’s account even if they have the password and the username. Two-factor authentication can be a PIN code received via email or text or a biometric authentication like a fingerprint.
Human error is one of the biggest contributing factors to data breaches. The lack of knowledge of employees regarding cybersecurity and attacks can put businesses at risk. Education is a vital part of security.
Businesses should include chatbot development techniques that developers and IT specialists should learn to improve the system and security.
Implementing Security Protocol and Processes
The HTTPS protocol is the default configuration for every security system. Even if you’re not in your company’s IT department, you’ll recognize this as the beginning of every secure URL in your browser’s search bar.
There should be no issues as long as your IT security teams ensure that your data is transferred over HTTP using encrypted connections secured by Transport Layer Security (TLS) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). This should effectively close any potential back-door into your corporate system.
Chatbots have internal security measures, but implementing security measures within your system, network, and website can provide additional security.
Behavioral Pattern Analysis
Behavioral analytics evaluate user behavior patterns to provide insights about the presence of hackers or other security issues based on odd behavior or abnormalities. This method can help IT experts detect suspicious activities immediately and check on them to prevent the hackers from further exploiting a vulnerability.
Securing the Cloud and Backup System
Some businesses store their customers’ information on the cloud or on-premise storage. It is crucial to keep those storage sites safe from threats. You can read this article on our website on how you can secure your cloud storage.
Furthermore, using the best antivirus software for Windows 10 or other devices can add another security layer. You can check out what software you need best for your business protection.
Chatbots are only secure as the user makes them. Hackers can use chatbots as backdoor to access company data. Therefore, practice caution when using chatbots.
Our advice is to give your chatbot technology the attention and protection it needs the way you protect your business website, system, devices, and networks. Strengthening the defenses of your chatbot can eliminate the chances for hackers to enter your system and use your company’s data.