Send Scam Emails to This Chatbot and It’ll Waste Their Time for You
Chatbots. They’re usually a waste of your time, so why not have them waste someone else’s instead? Better yet: why not have them waste an email scammer’s time.
That’s the premise behind Re:scam, an email chatbot operated by New Zealand cybersecurity firm Netsafe. Next time you get a scam email in your inbox, says Netsafe, forward it on to firstname.lastname@example.org, and a proxy email address will start replying to the scammer, doing its very utmost to waste their time. You can see a few sample dialogues in the video above, or check out a longer back-and-forth below.
It looks infuriatingly effective.
Using chatbots to give email scammers a taste of their own medicine isn’t actually new. And although Netsafe has made a very fancy looking video promo for their bot, the technology behind it is relatively simple; relying more on pre-programmed conversational misdirects than sophisticated artificial intelligence.
Really, though, that’s all it takes. A more famous chatbot time-waster is “Lenny,” which is designed to waste telemarketers’ time, doing so without any AI or speech recognition component. Instead, Lenny uses just 16 pre-recorded snippets of dialogue, each of which has been designed to be as vague and ambiguous as possible. The technique is surprisingly effective, as the video below shows. (You’ll feel sorry for the caller before long.)
Let’s just wait until the scammers have their own bots too. That’ll be the future of cybersecurity: millions of bots battling back and forth behind the scenes, keeping humans safe. That is, until they stop fighting one another and decide to take on their common enemy instead.