6 Chatbot Security Measures to Implement by@zacamos

6 Chatbot Security Measures to Implement

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Chatbots are an artificial intelligence technology that site visitors can use to ask questions and find solutions. When considering chatbot security, companies should implement end to end encryption, website SSL, access controls, and a self-destructive message. For best security practices, companies should also spread security awareness to their team and consistently test security measures.

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Zac Amos

Zac is the Features Editor at ReHack, where he covers...

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Most people are familiar with chatbots. They are an artificial intelligence technology that site visitors can use to ask questions and find solutions.

Chatbots have provided several advantages to online businesses. Customer support representatives use them to handle simple customer inquiries while they can focus on more complex customer issues.

They also decrease sales cycles and customer service expenses — saving companies time and increasing revenue. And as over 60% of consumer interactions with companies take place online — a percentage that is only growing — chatbots have never been more prevalent or essential.

These artificial intelligence applications benefit any business that can profit from directing staff members to more-crucial tasks. However, there are safety measures the organization must address before launching its new service.

Here are six chatbot security measures to implement and why doing so is necessary.

1. End-to-End Encryption

End-to-end encryption is a fundamental feature of cybersecurity disciplines. It protects data by securing communication between end users by coding the data. That way, the customer and the chatbot are the only users who can see the information.

Encryption is crucial, as it prevents unauthorized users from viewing data and wandering an organization’s network or website. It also keeps hackers from being able to steal the information if they exfiltrate in a data breach.

Several regulations recommend data encryption as part of a security program. When using a chatbot tool, ensure it carries this feature before adding it to a website.

2. Website SSL

A fundamental security measure for websites — which also aids chatbots — is an SSL (Secure Socket Layer). Site users can typically see this at the beginning of a website URL. It will appear as HTTPS instead of HTTP.

The SSL indicates the website has a security certificate and is secured against unauthorized users.

The data moves through an encrypted connection any individual, device, or application can’t compromise. As such, the content of a chatbot is decrypted using algorithms and mathematical formulas.

3. Access Controls

Each time a user interacts with a business’s application, user identity verification is crucial. This requires the user to log into the application with a username and password.

Logins keep the chat session secure, and using a security token throughout a chat session provides further protection.

Companies must also set a time limit for the session. Once the user steps away from their computer or leaves the chat, it should automatically close with a pre-set timer.

Furthermore, chatbots can have additional security features, such as two-factor or multifactor authentication. Many security-conscious businesses require chat users to verify their identities.

Users can achieve this by entering a code they typically receive from an application's email, text or phone call.

4. Self-Destructive Message

Chat sessions are typically short on chatbots and end once the user achieves satisfaction. However, the user’s personal data is still lingering online. The chatbot should have a feature that erases information immediately to protect identifiable information.

Administrators should set time limits on chats for how long they remain before self-destructing. Certain regulations — like General Data Protection Regulation — require that companies not store collected data for more than the predefined time limit.

5. Spread Awareness to the Team

One challenging security vulnerability to mitigate is human error within company applications. Therefore, organizations must address user behavior or risk a flawed system.

Though many users are increasingly aware of the importance of digital security, humans are still a system's most problematic security issue. Chatbot security will always be vulnerable until user error is no longer a problem — and employees are the ones most likely to make a mistake.

That’s why education on chatbot security is crucial. Companies must include IT experts and developers in training their operatives so they know how to use the system correctly and securely.

Team training will enhance workers’ skill sets and give them confidence when securely engaging with a chatbot system.

While businesses can’t train customers the same way, they can give them a roadmap detailing how to interact safely with a system. This may involve sending informative newsletters and publishing online content.

6. Test Security Measures

The one true secure way to safeguard a chatbot is to allow IT specialists to test and improve its performance. However, companies can perform several security tests to assess the technology’s integrity. These include:

  • Penetration testing: Referred to as ethical hacking, a cybersecurity expert or software application performs manually. This will test the system to check for vulnerabilities.

  • API security testing: Numerous tools are available to check the integrity of an API (Application Programming Interface). However, IT specialists usually have access to software, helping them identify vulnerabilities that others can’t.

  • Comprehensive UX testing: Administrators can check the security of a chatbot by carrying out their own user experience. Companies can consider how it feels to engage with their chatbot and whether it behaves in the way they expect. If there are any obvious faults, they can take steps to fix them.

Why Chatbot Security Is Important

While chatbots are helpful for serving customers 24/7, any system can be vulnerable to hackers. Vulnerabilities represent a gap in a system cybercriminals can exploit.

Frequently, these occur when online companies have poor security plans, weak website development, and user errors.

Unfortunately, no system is impenetrable, and all software has its weaknesses. That’s why businesses must consistently test and look for vulnerabilities so they can patch them when found.

Some vulnerabilities of a chatbot include:

  • Lack of encryption when customers use the chatbot while it is communicating with backend databases.

  • Insufficient security protocols and employee training; leading users to expose a backdoor or directly disclose sensitive data.

  • Vulnerabilities of a chatbot are in connection with the site’s hosting platform and databases.

When the components of a website are exposed, threats emerge and can launch an attack against the owner. In turn, cybercriminals have free reign to take over a chatbot and steal customer data right from under the company’s nose.

Making Chatbots as Secure as Possible

Chatbots are like any other digital technology — they are only as secure as an organization makes them. While there’s potential for hackers to use them as a backdoor, investing in the appropriate security measures is highly important.

Keep in mind that chatbot technology is mature enough that IT specialists can understand where the vulnerabilities are and how they can best keep them secure.

Though nothing compares to the security level a specialist provides, using these security measures can provide great insight into the processes of safeguarding chatbot services.

Zac Amos HackerNoon profile picture
by Zac Amos @zacamos.Zac is the Features Editor at ReHack, where he covers cybersecurity, AI and more.
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