BOHH Labs: Chatbots May Mean Big Security Problems.

January 26, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

Chatbots have previously been hailed as the greatest advancement in customer service since the telemarketing call, and only slightly less annoying to the customer him- or herself. While it’s not exactly clear whether chatbots make retail better or worse, a new report sent our way from BOHH Labs says that these systems might pose another problem: security risks.

With an Oracle survey recently noting that 80 percent of businesses studied wanted chatbots in place by 2020, and that artificial intelligence is making rapid gains, the BOHH Labs research found that the comparative infancy of chatbot technology was representing less a point of contact for callers and more a point of entry for hackers. Security hasn’t exactly kept up with the whole “getting it off the ground” part of chatbot technology, which may pose some risk.

BOHH Labs’ CEO and cybersecurity expert Simon Bain notes “While bot technology has improved dramatically in recent years, for maximum security, chatbot communication should be encrypted and chatbots should be deployed only on encrypted channels. This can be easily set up on an organization’s own website, but for brands that use chatbots through third-party platforms such as Facebook, the security features are decided by the third party’s own security branch, which means the organization does not have as much control over the security features on the chatbot.”

This is all reasonable enough, but at the same time, it’s almost like sounding an alarm that the pointy end of a nail could puncture human flesh up to and including eyes. Yes, chatbot technology isn’t as safe as it could be. There are few technologies that are as safe as they could be; like the old analogy goes, a room no one can enter is the safest room of all, but why have it? If chatbots are still going to be used in large numbers—which the Oracle study supports—it’s clear improvements are necessary, not just in safety but also in terms of how much the customer is annoyed by chatbot operations.

Still, taken as inspiration to greater security, the BOHH Labs study will make an excellent impetus to further improvement. Chatbots may not be as safe as they could be, but improvements in safety are likely forthcoming.