Nobody wants to get hacked. Or get their sensitive data leaked. And so, it is not surprising that one of the most common concerns regarding chatbots is safety. But don't fear - there's a way to keep your chatbot and sensitive data safe.
Chatbots are powerful tools for everything from automating customer service to detecting fraud. However, they also come with their own unique set of security challenges. 🤔
Chatbots, designed to interact with customers in a human-like way, collect a lot of data. And with collecting data comes responsibility. The responsibility of collecting, storing, and maintaining the data securely.
In this piece, we'll look at how to ensure your chatbot is safe by exploring potential safety threats and methods to overcome them.
➡️1 Data storage
Data storage management describes the process of how files and documents are recorded digitally and saved in a storage system for future use. In the last few years, security and regulatory compliances have become more challenging and complex, making it more important than ever to have efficient data management.
First of all, you should ensure all data associated with the chatbot gets stored safely and securely. That means all data should be stored, separated, and encrypted, preferably on a cloud service. Cloud services make it possible to store information about your user's preferences and provide customized solutions, messages, and products based on behavior and user preferences. With cloud storage, you can enjoy the benefits of enterprise level security without the need for complex and expensive on-premises infrastructure.
Another part of data storage security is to set up a retention policy. A retention policy is a set of guidelines defining how long you will keep data and a defined routine of how and when you dispose of it when it's no longer needed. User data, conversations, and files are all included in this category. It is also possible to set up custom retention rules depending on what happens during a conversation.
To take the security even further you should consider topping off your retention policy with a dishwasher function. A data dishwasher makes it possible to wash conversations from sensitive data, such as social security numbers, phone numbers, and names.
➡️2 Data transfer security
Transfer security is another aspect of chatbot safety. A secure transfer method prevents leakages, breaches, or any other mishaps that may take place during data transfers between a chatbot and other systems. There are various ways to ensure data transfers securely. Here are some of the most common methods.
The IP white-listing method helps limit access to internal systems by only granting access to specific IP addresses. This method is helpful if you plan to integrate your chatbot into another system or application. You start with defining which IP addresses should be considered trustworthy and when you have that list, all other IP addresses will be blocked from accessing your system. In other words, IP white-listing is a security strategy that reduces the attack surface and risk associated with unauthorized access.
Transport layer security
A must-have for secure data transfer is transport layer security (TLS). TLS is a security protocol that provides end-to-end security of data sent between applications over the Internet. In short, TLS makes it possible to authenticate the other party in a connection, check the integrity of data, and provide encrypted protection.
Controlling access is the basis of all security. Hence, requiring authentication is kind of the alpha and the omega for chatbots. Authentication enables you to keep the chatbot secure by permitting only authenticated users or processes to gain access. There are several ways to do it, but the most used methods are multi-factor authentication and single sign-on.
The strength of a single password is low. A way to ensure a safer user login is using multi-factor authentication (MFA). Multi-factor authentication ensures only legitimate users can access accounts and applications. This process enforces additional authentication measures, such as a text message or an email, before the user can access the account. Multi-factor authentication blocks attackers from using the intercepted password and is one of the most reliable ways to protect user accounts.
Companies requiring a higher level of security usually want to take additional measures to ensure the authentication method is secure. One way to do it is to use single sign-on (SSO). This authentication method allows users to securely access multiple applications and websites using only one set of credentials.
The SSO process relies on establishing a trust relationship between a service provider and an identity provider. The identity provider and service provider exchange certificates to form this trust relationship. Using a certificate, identity information can be verified as coming from a trusted source from the identity provider to the service provider. As part of the SSO process, this identity data is collected via tokens that contain identifying information about the user, such as their email address or username.
For a chatbot project, this comes in extra handy as it mitigates the security risks by enabling all permission to be controlled by your internal system rather than the chatbot application. Meaning that if a data breach in the chatbot application happens, it won't compromise the security.
➡️4 Account hacking
No single security measure can prevent account hacking. But, you can increase safety by combining multiple methods. Two methods often used in the chatbot context are account blocking and IP-based restrictions.
To use account blocking is to block if a user enters their password wrong too many times in a row. Then the application can introduce a delay before the next attempt. The delay protects from automated brute-forcing of the password.
The method of restricting specific IP addresses is based on the same approach as in the above example of transferring data securely, i.e. using IP white lists.
Last but not least, it is important to continuously keep testing the security of the chatbot even after the release. This is called penetration testing or pen tests. A pen test is a simulated cyber attack against a computer system to check for exploitable vulnerabilities. It makes it possible for you to detect and patch potential security risks.
New technologies, (chatbots included) will always be associated with some level of security risks. But with proper threat modeling, secure development, and continuous security testing -- most threats and safety issues can be disarmed.
👋 Talk to us
At Ebbot, we take security seriously. We have a lot of experience in developing chatbots for companies with high-security needs. Feel free to reach out for a demo, we'll be happy to give you a walkthrough of the Ebbot platform and our security measures in detail.