They’re not human, but they sure seem like they are when we chat with them. Chatbots will become virtual butlers of many companies thanks to their ability to process natural language. Companies like Facebook are promoting their use. For the last few months, Facebook has allowed third parties to create bots for its Messenger app. Slack, Telegram, and Line have also opened their API (the window that allows other applications to communicate with each other) to make room for bots.

Companies can also use these intermediaries to increase the productivity of their workers. For example, Howdy allows you to organize meetings and manage the team without leaving the famous Slack corporate communication platform.

They can also be a new customer service channel, either by integrating them in one of these platforms or including them in their own corporate website. In the United States, Uber already allows you to request a car through Facebook Messenger

But let’s take a step back for a moment. Although the bot trend is going to become a multi-million dollar business, the truth is that they can also be a new way for cybercriminals to commit their misdeeds. In fact, they can become a weapon in the service of phishing, one that is more dangerous than traditional emails.

After all, we are already well aware that when we receive an email we have to verify the source. But if a chatbot starts talking to one of our employees or one of our clients, usurping your company’s name, it will be a lot easier for users to fall into their traps.

A New Tool for Phishing

If the person on the other end of a conversation with a chatbot has no way of knowing whether or not they’re speaking to a human, it’s easier to get a victim to click a link after several minutes of casual conversation. By doing so, the user can be redirected to a fraudulent website that uses social engineering techniques to requests confidential data.

In fact, cyberattackers may not even have to come up with that fraudulent website. If they just want to get some private information from a user, they may simply ask for it.

Another option is that the link, instead of serving as a con in itself, directs employees to a webpage that automatically downloads malware — a particularly serious situation if the victim is using the company’s computer. It is advisable to be well protected with an advanced cybersecurity solution.

The security of the channel itself is another factor to take into account when using a chatbot. Facebook announced a few months ago the implementation of end-to-end encryption in Facebook Messenger to prevent third parties from having access to a conversation.

However, other platforms to integrate these virtual butlers may not use that method. Care must be taken with the kind of information we provide to these intermediaries. The fact that they sound human can cause us to end up giving them too much information.

Undoubtedly, chatbots will improve the way we work and the way we communicate with our customers. But its popularization also brings with it new threats in the area of cybersecurity.