What is a Chatbot and How are they Used?

What is a Chatbot and How are they Used

Have you heard the term “chatbot”?  You have probably interacted with one and not even known.  What is a chatbot and how are they used by various businesses?  A chatbot is in effect an automated chat system that is powered by rules or artificial intelligence.  It is used to interact with you customers through an interface, they can be functional and even fun.  Thus far they have been used in text messages, Facebook messenger along with Telegram and slack.

Today, businesses have a plethora of ways to communicate with their customers.  One of the more popular ways to communicate is through chat, it is faster and you can do it from your phone almost anywhere.  Now imagine you’re doing some online shopping and you can’t find what you are looking for.  You can simply tell the chatbot and they deliver you to the right page to place your order.  Shopping isn’t the only use for chatbots, you can use them for scheduling, financial transactions, getting the weather and so much more.  Here is an intro to chatbots and what they can do.

Why are they important

Why should you use a chatbot other than it being a pretty cool piece of technology?  Chatbots actually present a great opportunity to streamline business communications.  Most people today prefer the messenger apps that are such a big part of social networking, Facebook messenger in particular.  For companies that market on Facebook it gives you the chance to interact with customers without them having to leave Facebook, your chatbot can answer real time questions and you can reduce the amount of staff that handle customer service for you.  In regards to marketing, messages through messenger have a much higher open rate than even email.

How do the work?

Using artificial intelligence chatbots can interact and answer questions.  Usually they can answer very specific questions and they may not always be able to understand the question or the response.  Since they were first developed they have gotten way more sophisticated and you don’t have to be as specific.  Chatbots can understand language and some basic commands.

While you’re probably most familiar with them in a marketing capacity that is not the only practical use for them.  They are now being used in online learning environments as well.  In rural areas where there isn’t a complete education system or in cases of home schooling a learning bot can help students to learn and answer questions about the lessons being taught.

Chatbots may have seemed like a marketing gimmick initially, they have far more practical uses and we’re only seeing the beginning.

What You Need to Know About Ransomware

Ransomware is one of the biggest threats to digital security that we face today.  Ransomware takes your data and encrypts and then charges you a “ransom” to have your personal files returned to you.  If you own a business not only is this a threat to your proprietary documents but it can threaten your customer’s personal information as well.  Here is what you need to know about ransomware.

What You Need to Know About Ransomware

Ransomware affects mobile too

You have probably heard about ransomware attacks on servers and personal computers but it also presents a risk to mobile phones and tablets as well.  Remember that the operating systems like Android that power your phone also power smart TVs and that is what is at risk.  There was actually one incident of ransomware locking out a TV and demanding $200 in iTunes gift cards to return the system.

Backups get hacked too

Most people think that if you also store your data in a separate location that you will be safe, unfortunately that is not always the case.  The hackers who develop ransomware are aware of this and have the capability of locking your backups too until the ransom is paid.  It can also encrypt your backups and disk drives.  Businesses that use SQL databases, which is almost all of them are particularly vulnerable.

Having a Mac won’t help

One of the things that makes ransomware so dangerous is that it can affect Mac and Linux too.  The idea that Mac’s don’t get viruses is no longer true and now there are more and more viruses targeted Mac and Linux based operating systems.

It looks like real software

In the beginning ransomware came onto your computer by way of an email attachment, but that isn’t the case anymore.  Hackers have gotten much better when it comes to delivering viruses onto your system.  Even government agencies have fallen victim to ransomware attacks and they have sophisticated network security in place.  Often ransomware is hidden in real applications and games.  It is disguised as something you would use like an “update” so that you will freely install it.  Here is how you avoid it.

How do you prevent it?

Protecting your system, especially if you run a business, against ransomware is crucial. All of your devices are at risk regardless of the backups in place or the operating system that you are using. How can you protect yourself? To start with keep your operating system up to date, updates help fix security vulnerabilities. Keep an eye out for suspicious files and don’t accept updates unless you get them from the software website. Use mail filtering to scan for malicious code in email attachments. Lastly get yourself some decent internet security to protect your systems. While no system is foolproof you can protect yourself and your personal information as much as possible.