Chatbots- Risks and Fixes

The world is moving fast with technology, and traditional businesses are slowly transforming into e-businesses. It's natural for consumers to seek online shopping and business over in-store shopping. In such cases, 'Chatbots' serve as the online-customer support.


What is a Chatbot? 

 A chatbot is a software solution that uses machine learning to have a conversation with another user online. You might find them all over the internet, whether you're at an online store or an online banking page. As soon as you enter the website, a pop-up message similar to 'Hi, how can I help you?' may appear. The chat will commence as the user answers the prompt. The chatbot will provide additional prompts or the assistance of a customer representative as needed.

 The best thing about a chatbot is that it is there 24/7, 365, while a company's employees might be offline. Usually, a customer would expect a quick response from an online business. If it fails to provide it, the customer would undoubtedly switch to another website, possibly of a competitor's. If you plan to start an e-business, a chatbot will save you from missed sales and provide a competitive advantage.



So what is the downside of this? A chatbot comes with its risks. Generally, risks related to the use of chatbots are of two types.

  1. Threats
  2. Vulnerabilities



Threats are usually one-off events. These include,

  • Malware attacks - Malicious software developed by the cyber attackers gain access to the data collected by the chatbot and cause damage 
  • Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks - Multiple compromised computer systems attack a target. Here the attacker makes it impossible for the chatbot to provide its service.
  • Impersonation of individuals
  • Ransomware - A form of malware designed to encrypt files on a system. It restricts users' access to it until a ransom is paid for decryption. 
  • Data-theft.
  • Data alterations
  • Re-purposing of bots by hackers
  • Phishing - Incorporating of a chatbot into phishing to extract personal information from users


You could lose access to the system, while the attackers can easily threaten you to release sensitive information such as customer data.


Vulnerabilities are simply cracks in the system that pave the way for cybercriminals to attack your systems. These can be a result of poor coding and poor safety. Some of the commonly identified vulnerabilities are,

  • Unencrypted communications
  • Lack of HTTP protocol
  • Absence of security protocols for employees
  • Hosting platform issues

The chatbot should be secured by fixing vulnerabilities and cracks as soon as they are identified.

Threats and vulnerabilities go hand in hand. The threats happen as a result of the abundance of vulnerabilities.


How to combat the risks and vulnerabilities?

The risks of using a chatbot are high, but that does not mean you should not have a chatbot for your website. Even the most secure systems in the world are not entirely hacker-proof. There are ways to upgrade the security of chatbot technology. 

Securing your chatbot


There are several ways to upgrade and maintain the security of a chatbot.


  1. End-to-End Encryption

Makes sure that only sender and receiver can view the conservation. Prevents any other party from accessing the conversation or the transaction. 

2.       Authentication and authorization

These are the two main security processes used in chatbots. Authentication refers to user identity verification. Authorization is the process of giving the user permission to access a resource or a function. Several chatbot security practices employ both of these at once.

  • Biometric authentication
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Employment of User IDs
  • Authentication Timeouts


3.      Use a Web Application Firewall (WAF)

A WAP protects a website by filtering, monitoring, and preventing malicious traffic and harmful requests. It also prevents unauthorized data from leaving the system preventing data breaching. 


Chatbots are an innovation that takes e-business to the next level in a tech-savvy world. Employing a chatbot would make your website a user-friendly place. But just like everything else, chatbot technology comes with risks. 

Chatbots give an excellent opportunity for hackers to enter your website and obtain sensitive information. If not properly secured, it could harm your business, as well as your customer base. However, if up-to-date proper security measures are implemented, you can leave that real-time customer service all to your chatbot.


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