Cyber helpline case study

Using chatbots to support cybercrime victims

Campaign: Chatbots and voice applications | Experience: Research and strategy

Cybercrime is a rising threat, both in the UK and globally. And it doesn’t discriminate, affecting businesses and private individuals alike. 

Malware, fraud and hacking cost governments billions to clean up. In 2020, Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) dealt with an all time record of 723 serious hacker attacks.

The Cyber Helpline is a not-for-profit which facilitates the provision of free support by cyber security experts to UK cybercrime victims. The charity partnered with Manifesto to deliver this support via a chatbot.


Providing victims with help 24/7

The Cyber Helpline recognised a need to support victims of cybercrime at any time of day or night. Particularly during a pandemic, where human support in call centres had been compromised, and rates of cybercrime were only rising. According to police statistics, the UK experienced a 31% increase in cases during the height of the pandemic, between May and June 2020.

As a result, the charity sought the expertise of Manifesto to design and build a chatbot which could navigate the complex world of cybercrime. The technology had to be able to aid victims, by both containing threats where possible, and offering comprehensive support in the post-crime, recovery phase.


Speaking in plain English

To tackle the influx in cybercrime and resultant spike in reliance on The Cyber Helpline, Manifesto dug into user research, which indicated very clearly that individual victims of cybercrime do not use technical terminology when describing what has happened to them.

Whilst most help systems ask you a series of questions to diagnose the problem, our research proved this wasn’t going to be effective enough. To better provide access to help, our team had to allow the user to write freely, using their own natural language to explain what has happened to them. This led us to Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning technology, which could interpret, categories and diagnose an attack without requiring technical terms.

Our teams used knowledge graphs, which can connect intent, phrases, nouns and adjectives to associated concepts. This way, we could capture the cyber security experts’ experience, and build the platform in a way which meant it could continue to be trained by them over time, as new instances of cybercrime evolve.



An 85% correct diagnosis rate

The Cyber Helpline’s new chatbot uses OpenDialog’s web chat module to interact with cybercrime victims. It allows them to report their problem descriptively in their own language, and provides them with detail on the most likely cause of their attack. And, perhaps most importantly, the bot goes even further, suggesting the next steps to protect them.

If the first diagnosis is not correct, the next most likely cause is suggested, and the chatbot continues to learn from this data. So far, it’s provided around 85% of users with a correct diagnosis. Only 1 in 10 cases now reach volunteers, which allows cybercrime experts to focus on more complex, high-risk cases that demand the most help and attention. 

Freeing up this sort of capacity through automation has also allowed a higher volume of cases to be supported, at minimal cost and with few resource requirements.If you’re concerned you have been a victim of cybercrime, you can access The Cyber Helpline here.


How this helps us on your project

Our expert approach allows you to leverage or learn, to apply to new or existing conversational AI projects. We incorporate deep knowledge of the leading conversational AI platforms, whilst being led by academic research in the fields of linguistics and human computer interaction, and providing evolutionary monitoring and improvements. Get in touch with our team to learn more about conversational AI and the ways in which it can support your organisation.

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