chatbot | 9 min read

Enterprise Chatbot Security: Top 9 Practices You Must Follow [+Bonus Practices]

Published by Bhavyadeep Singh on 22-Nov-2022

Chatbots have become the new favorite tool for enterprises worldwide. It is because enterprises are always on a hunt to digitize, automate, and scale its operations. And chatbots offer them exactly the same. However, it goes without saying that enterprise chatbots also pose great risks. And by risks I mean massive scale risks that can tarnish an enterprise’s reputation.

Below are the stats that show us the scope of risk I am talking about.

  • On average enterprises encounter 130 security breaches per year, per organization

  • There was an increase of 27.4% in the annual number of security breaches faced by enterprise organizations in 2021

These alarming stats are the reason why enterprises have increased their annual cost of cyber security by  22.7% in 2021.

When we talk about cyber security of enterprise as a whole, it also includes chatbot security. So, now the question arises — how to make your enterprise chatbot secure?

Well, the answer is simple. Follow best enterprise security practices. And what are these practices? That’s exactly what we are going to talk about in this blog. We have created the ultimate enterprise chatbot security checklist for you.

But before we dive deep into best chatbot security practices, let’s discuss why enterprises need to be secure and what are the types of threats that you need to be aware of.

Why Must Enterprise Chatbots Be Secure?

Enterprise chatbots are a reservoir of critical data that contains personal information like name, email account credentials, health records, bank documents, making enterprise security a massive concern.

Enterprise chatbots are pieces of software that are susceptible to several security threats. A malicious hacker can reprogram chatbots to disclose passwords or steal key information.

These incidents can be catastrophic as banks can lose millions of dollars in seconds, health records can get compromised, and retailers can be defrauded of massive amounts.

Not only this, a security breach in an enterprise chatbot could lead to a downtime that can affect thousands of customers using a chatbot. These outages can cause permanent dent in the reputation of your enterprise.

Thus, it becomes imperative for an enterprise chatbot to be secured from all kinds of threats.

But what these threats actually are? Let’s have a look at the various types of security concerns your enterprise chatbot needs to be aware of.

Types of Security Concerns

When we talk about enterprise chatbot security concerns, they are mainly divided into two categories:

  • Threats

  • Vulnerabilities

Let’s have a look at both of them in detail.

1. Threats

Threats are simply the ways a system can be compromised. With these threats, a hacker can expose information and also sell them on the deep web. Here, we have listed a few major threats and ways to mitigate these threats.

a. Spoofing

In spoofing, hackers impersonate someone else to illegally access a user’s credentials. You can mitigate this threat by:  

  • Appropriate authentication

  • Protecting sensitive data

  • Not storing secrets in unsafe storage

b.Tampering

Here, the hacker aims to maliciously modify the data. You can deal with this type of threats via:

  • Digital signatures

  • Hashes

  • Append-only audit logging

  • Tamper-resistant protocols

c. Repudiation

This threat is aimed to perform illegal operations in a system. You avoid such threats with the help of:

  • Audit trails

  • Digital signatures

  • NTP and log timestamps

d. Information Disclosure

As the name suggests, here, the prime motive is data theft. Preventive measures for this threat are:

  • Privacy enhanced protocols

  • Encryption

  • Exclusion of sensitive data in logs

e. Denial of Service

Hackers may use this threat to deny access to the authorized users. You can eliminate the possibility of this threat with:

  • Filtering and throttling

  • Appropriate authentication/authorization

  • Quality of Service

f. Elevation of Privileges

Hackers use this threat to gain privileged access. You can discard such threats with:

  • Strong IAM

  • Least privilege design principle

2. Vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities are the faults in the system that allows threats to get inside the system. They are caused due to:

  • Incorrect coding

  • Weak Safeguards

  • User Errors

The major vulnerabilities that your enterprise chatbot may face include:

  • Unencrypted communications

  • Back-door access by hackers

  • Lack of HTTP protocol

  • Absence of security protocols for employees

  • Hosting platform issues

  • Open issues in third party systems/SDKs

  • Missing or unorganized firewalls

Here, the most effective way to mitigate vulnerabilities is SDL (Security Development Lifecycle) implementation activities in the development lifecycle.

Top 9 Enterprise Chatbot Security Practices

1. Periodically Conduct VAPT Tests

Conducting VAPT tests regularly is one of the most important enterprise chatbot security practices to ensure top-grade security. Vulnerability test, also known as a vulnerability assessment, is a process where you evaluate various security risks in the chatbot to reduce or eliminate the possibilities of threats.

The prime objective of these tests is to prevent hackers from getting unauthorized access to systems. To eliminate bias and get natural results, these tests are usually outsourced to an independent security agency.

2. Encryption at Rest and Motion

Your enterprise chatbot is always vulnerable to the possibility of hackers tampering with or spoofing the data in transit. You can use end-to-end encryption to make your enterprise chatbot secure.

In addition, you can also establish an encrypted link between a client and a web server with a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

Following these steps for encryption at rest and motion can prevent a third person other than a sender and receiver to peep into the messages. You can also consider business VPNs that can encrypt the whole internet traffic and messages, ensuring robust encryption.

3. Two-factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is a prominent measure that ensures security for enterprise chatbots. This method is used across niches, making it a tried and tested security practice.

In this, users are required to confirm their identity via two different platforms to get access to the chatbot. Here, the verification code is generally sent to the mobile number or email. When users enter the correct code, they get access to the chatbot.

While setting up two factor authentication, users must ensure that only one person knows the password. They must also ensure that it is not written anywhere for someone to get a hold of it.

Two factor authentication might appear old school and orthodox. But the bottom line is, they are effective and you must follow this practice to ensure top-notch security.

4. Self-destructive Messages

Self destructive messages have become a must-have feature in many social media applications like WhatsApp and Snapchat, focusing on the user’s privacy. These messages destroy themselves automatically once the conversation ends. Thus, no trace of these messages is left, and no one can recover them.

Similarly, you can have this feature in your enterprise chatbot where all the messages are deleted after a certain interval. Thus, with this feature, you can prevent data breaches and secure users’ privacy.

Moreover, this practice also helps you to comply with the GDPR guidelines, according to which you cannot store the collected data for more than a predefined time.

5. Use HTTPS

Moving data over HTTP and ensuring Transparent Layer Security (TLS) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a recommended enterprise chatbot security practice. With this, you can restrict possible indirect access to the company’s system.

Secure Socket Layer is a security protocol that establishes an encrypted link between the client and a server. It keeps data like passwords, personal information, credit card numbers, etc., safe and confidential.

In addition, you can also set up a firewall to avoid unauthorized access to the chatbot’s server. This helps you keep the chatbot’s data safe from hackers.

Here, SSL certificates have different forms. Each certificate has its own benefits and features. You can choose the certificates based on your needs. You can make a choice of certificates from Organization Validation, Domain Validation, and Extended Validation.

All these certificates use 256-bit encryption to protect data. Moreover, it also comes with a warranty that covers the damages in case something happens.

6. Intent Level Authorization

Context and state are two combined inputs that influence that intent-based communication. Here, context is an outcome of the analysis that is done on the user inputs. And the state is simply the chat history.

Generally, contextual information involves only revealing the critical information that requires to go to a different level of authorization from the backend level.

Let’s take an example to understand it better.

Suppose, an organization has a policy that no employee can reveal their salary details on a conversational platform. So, in this case, the organization can use intent level authorization to block all the intents related to salary.

So, whenever an employee requests for any data pertaining to salary, the chatbot will reply indicating that the data, user is requesting is restricted and cannot be accessed.

Here, the conversation will look something like this.

7. SOC2 Certification

SOC2 is an important certification that ensures the SaaS product you build your chatbot on is safe and secure. This certification is developed by the American Institute of CPAs. It defines criteria for customer data management. It is based on five trust service principles that are:

  • Security 

  • Privacy 

  • Availability

  • Confidentiality 

  • Processing integrity

8. ISO 27001 Certification

Apart from SOC2, another certification that you must have for your enterprise chatbot security is ISO 27001 certification. It is a leading international standard published by the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) along with International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

ISO framework is a combination of policies and processes that organizations can use. Here, enterprises can leverage Information Security Management System (ISMS) to protect information in a cost-effective manner.

9. Regular Backup and Store Data

When we talk about enterprise chatbot security, we are mostly talking about the extremes. That’s why, you must always prepare for the worst. One such practice is to always backup data regularly, ideally every few hours. Taking backup of all the data can ensure that you don’t lose out on any data in case of a disaster.

In addition, you can also follow a common practice of creating backups of data on both the server (where they reside) and locally. This helps prevent catastrophic circumstances such as a data center falling down.

Bonus Security Practices for Additional Security Measures

Since we have curated an ultimate enterprise chatbot security checklist, it also comes with bonus security practices that you shouldn’t miss out on. Let’s have a look at these security measures one by one.

1. Secure JavaScript

Generally, enterprises use JavaScript snippets to deploy chatbots on their websites. These snippets are dynamically loaded into the web pages and are responsible for creating a UI for the conversational agent. Here, you must take few things into account like:

  • Exclude external “<script>” tags in critical web pages such as check out page, login window, etc.

  • Instead use a Subresource Integrity with “<link>” or “<script>” tags to external sources.

  • Include and host necessary scripts in a secured web server.

2. Secure Access to RESTful API Services

You must choose a provider that has at least access to a RESTful API with a two layer authentication. In addition, this must have security keys along with temporal access tokens with domain keys.

You should also keep API security keys safe to cap the access of the API services.

Here, you must note that you should go for this option only if you can afford to have more coding resources since accessing the chatbot via RESTful API needs more coding resources. However, this option would also give a more secure environment to your chatbot.

3. Secure Webhooks

Webhooks enables a chatbot to interact with other systems in the backend. To ensure your chatbot is intelligent, it must be able to access databases, CRM, billing systems, etc.

Here, you must ensure that you’re securing the webhooks by implementing an authentication layer. In addition, you must also validate the origin of the requests they receive. Lastly, you must only allow encrypted communications via HTTPS.

4. Keep Passwords Safe

A majority of development environments used by chatbot providers use web-based integrated development environment (IDE) that is accessible by credentials. So, here password safety becomes paramount. Here, the best practice would be to change the password often and never sharing the credentials with any of the co-workers.

5. Maintain Software Stack With Frequent Updates

Software system is quite vulnerable to cyber attacks. Moreover, hackers are always on a lookout for vulnerable systems. They use small and simple scripts to scan IP address to look for some known vulnerabilities.

On recognizing any vulnerability, they start a series of continuous attacks on your software stack. That is why, to keep your applications safe, you must keep your software stack updated with the latest version.

How to Test Your Security Measures?

To test your security measures, you need experienced security specialists who can test and improve the chatbot’s performance. Apart from this, there are several security tests that you can perform to test and assess your security measures. These tests include:

1. API Security Testing

There are several tools that can help you to check the integrity of your Application Programming Interface (API). But there are software whose access is available to only security specialists who utilize these tools to identify vulnerabilities that other professionals cannot.

2. Comprehensive UX Testing

Carrying a comprehensive UX test is something you can do to test your enterprise chatbot’s security. Here, you should mainly focus on questions like:

  • How does it feel to engage with your chatbot?

  • Is it behaving in the manner you want it to?

  • Are there any obvious faults?

Conclusion

Chatbots are becoming one of the strong pillars for enterprises worldwide. But for them to deliver results, it is essential that they are secure from all cyber attacks & threats and also devoid of any vulnerabilities.

Here, in this blog, we have tried to curate a chatbot security checklist for your enterprise. By following all these chatbot security practices religiously, you can make your enterprise chatbot secure against all threats, ensuring continuous automation, reliability, and scalability.

If you need more assistance regarding enterprise chatbot security, you can always reach out to WotNot. We have a team of enterprise chatbot experts who can help you with any chatbot security concerns.

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