Why Messaging Bots are a Looming Security Threat

April 25, 2016

Bots are taking over our messaging apps. 

Last week, at its F8 developer conference, Facebook revealed the first wave of Bots for Messenger. These automated, interactive programs respond to natural language and allow users to shop, order food, read the news and get personalized weather forecasts — all without leaving the Messenger app.

Separately, messaging app Kik also revealed its bot store, while Slack and Telegram have been experimenting with bots for some time. Microsoft also made a big push for bots at its Build 2016 conference, introducing developer tools for creating bots for Skype and other Microsoft services.

Since bots are embedded within the messaging and social apps we're already using, bots could be even better positioned to carry out certain exploits like the mining of personal data or harvesting login credentials, says Rami Essaid, CEO of Distil Networks, a security company that specializes in bot attacks.

"What’s potentially dangerous is they [bots] are being built into the app. Without a ton of scrutiny you could potentially have those trojan horses just built into apps, they don’t have to work from the outside in — they’re already in."

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