A large chunk of daily Internet traffic isn’t from legitimate users and is actually from automated software programs aka bots. While some are good bots, not all are well-intentioned. Malicious bots take over accounts, scrape and steal online content, hoard inventory, and overload servers. These “bad” bots can be destructive to organizations of all sizes and can significantly impact their bottom line.

It’s crucial to detect bot activity on your website and filter it through bot management. Here’s how bot management and bot detection approaches can be used to identify bots, manage bots, and deter bot attacks.

What Is Bot Management?

Bot management identifies bot activity and stops harmful bots from doing damage through advanced bot detection techniques while allowing good bots and legitimate users through. It can be challenging for businesses to manage the behavior of bots using a web application firewall (WAF) or other tools, which is why bot management for enterprise solutions exist. However, you can prevent attacks on your data by using a web application firewall with the help of a bot manager. This extra layer of application security can greatly reduce the bot’s influence.

It is crucial to implement bot detection to block malicious activity before an issue arises and to prevent automated attacks.

Good Versus Bad Bots

Good bots don’t have any malicious intent and are useful bots only seeking to enhance a human site visitor’s user experience. Bad bots are repurposed by adversaries, offering a cost effective, easy to use, and sophisticated tool that is able to conduct attacks at scale. There are a whole host of good bots and bad bots out there. Working with a modern  bot management solution can help your organization identify and stop malicious automation as well as continuously improve defenses to stay ahead of evolving automated threats.

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8 Reasons Malicious Bots Are Bad for Business

The level of intensity bad bots can cause might range from minor (scraping web page content) to major (using stolen card details to buy items); all malicious bots negatively impact businesses in some way.

The following is a top ten list, in no order, of the reasons why malicious bots are bad for business, the risks they bring, and why bot mitigation is crucial:

1. Inventory Hoarding

Limited edition or in-demand products are often the most botted items. Products like concert tickets, holiday gifts, or limited edition sneakers are the usual products, once they sell out there are no more on the way or at least not for a while. Attackers exploit this scarcity by using bots to purchase as much inventory as possible, and then reselling it at a massive markup on 3rd party sites. Even though the products are still being sold, your bottom line is affected as supporting the increased bot traffic can increase operational costs. More importantly inventory hoarding can have a huge impact on your brand reputation, frustrating your real customers and potentially discouraging them from making future purchases.

2. Credential Stuffing

Credential stuffing involves using breached data to take over accounts for unrelated services. Cybercriminals automate login attempts, often using info from one site to infiltrate another, like using retail site data to break into bank accounts.

The success rate for credential stuffing is only up to 2%. However, when cybercriminals have thousands or millions of stolen login credentials and automation to test those credentials for them, the work involved is worth it for them.

3. Fake Account Creation

Malicious bots create fake accounts to commit account takeover fraud, such as buying gift cards with stolen card information. These gift cards can be sold for cash. Bots create fake social media accounts to spread misinformation. Bots are also used to create accounts in advance to the sale of in-demand items in order to avoid being blocked as many hype sales attempt to block bad bots by requiring users to have an existing account to purchase inventory. 

4. Slower Website Performance

One characteristic of malicious bot attacks is that botters send an overwhelming number of requests, this unplanned increase in traffic can overload servers, causing sites to slow down. Some bots like scrapers and freebie bots hit sites constantly, forcing businesses to either increase operational investments to support this malicious traffic or suffer from slow site performance. This increases costs and impacts customer experience, driving them to competitors and leading to lower sales and a tarnished reputation.

5. Web Scraping

Web scraper bots collect digital assets like price info and images from websites. While some are legitimate and approved for uses like price comparison, many are malicious. These bots are often leveraged by other businesses looking to steal pricing data or publish duplicated content to create negative SEO for the targeted site, both are done to gain a competitive advantage. Counterfeiters also leverage web scraping to make exact replicas of your site in order to trick customers into believing they are interacting with your brand.

6. Carding

Much like credential stuffing, carding attacks involve bots testing large lists of stolen credit card information, by attempting to purchase an item with the card information. These attacks result in an unusually high number of failed transactions and can tarnish your relationship with payment processors leading to higher costs for card authorizations.

7. SMS Pumping

SMS pumping occurs when attackers target businesses with SMS flows and flood SMS messages to controlled premium rate numbers. Businesses are then left with massive bills associated with sending messages to those premium numbers which get paid to the attackers who either work with or own the telephone provider. 

8. Skewed Analytics

Accurate data is essential for modern businesses, understanding your customer’s behavior, their journey and how they interact with your online channels is crucial to make decisions like where to invest resources, ROI of marketing, and project growth. Malicious bots being present and undetected in your online traffic can greatly skew analytics and lead to decisions not based solely on insights from real customers. 

How Does Bot Management Work?

With rising online traffic and awareness of malicious bots, bot management is essential for businesses. These solutions differentiate between human and bot traffic, identifying whether bots are legitimate or harmful through various methods.

Static Methods

Analysis tools parse HTTP header information and other web requests to identify known malicious bots. Static methods of bot management are passive. These methods are relatively ineffective in the face of modern bots. Bot operators are able to reverse engineer their detection and create bypasses that remain effective for long periods of time due to their slow moving architecture. Some adversaries even sell bypasses to static anti-bot solutions through solver services.

Challenge-Based Methods

These tools “challenge” website visitors to determine if they are human or not. Examples include CAPTCHA verification and checks to see if they can run JavaScript or accept cookies.

Note that CAPTCHAs can be bypassed by sophisticated malicious bots, CAPTCHA click farms, or purchased through solutions like CapSolver. Kasada’s technology eliminates the need to use CAPTCHAs or other challenge-based methods of detecting bots, preventing bots from exploiting CAPTCHAs and reducing friction for real users.

Behavioral Methods

A way of profiling visitors to determine if their activity matches known bot patterns. Such methods utilize several bot and human visitor profiles to make decisions. Behavioral detection such as device fingerprinting tends to fall short, as bots begin to look and act more human, even going so far as purchasing harvested digital fingerprints from real human sessions. Behavioral detection is also starting to suffer from growing consumer privacy trends. This combination is making real humans look more like bots and bots more like humans, and preventing behavioral detection from remaining effective.  

Modern Methods

Modern bot management solutions like Kasada have the benefit of hindsight. Rather than target the malicious automation, which evolves over time, modern solutions target the humans behind the bots. Undermining the ROI of attacks and forcing botters to move on. 

Why Should I Use Bot Management Solutions?

When selecting the right bot management solution for enterprise businesses, there isn’t a “one size fits all” option for everyone. It’s essential to choose the right solution for yours.

If you need enterprise-level protection, a bot management solution like Kasada could be the right choice for your needs. Based on an evaluation of 25-criterion, Kasada made it on the report Forrester Wave wrote about the fifteen most significant bot management providers.

Controls Malicious Bot Activity: Effective solutions like Kasada adapt to the evolving bot threat landscape, offering robust protection against various types of malicious bot behavior.

Real-Time Detection: A quality bot manager provides immediate detection, categorizing bots as beneficial or harmful, and allows selective blocking based on your specific needs, before they can access your infrastructure.

Boosts Website Performance: Bot management not only increases site speed but also minimizes bounce rates by regulating network traffic to exclude bad bots.

Drives Down Costs: By mitigating the impact of malicious bots, bot management can reduce the operating costs associated with your online activities.

Stops Fraud and Data Breaches: Advanced bot management minimizes the risk of fraud and potential security vulnerabilities, freeing you to focus on other business aspects.

Improves User Experience: Effective bot management ensures a secure and smooth online experience for your users by eliminating malicious activity.

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Bot Management FAQs

Can a Bot Management Solution Detect Evolving Bots?

One drawback of some bot management solutions is how they mainly rely on historical data to detect and prevent bot attacks. As you can imagine, such solutions can be useful in some situations – but not all scenarios.

Kasada uses a unique approach to detect evolving bots and doesn’t depend on IP addresses, historical behaviors, or challenges like CAPTCHAs.

Can Bot Management Software Stop Attacks Before Data Gets Breached?

The answer depends on which bot management solutions you are considering for your business. An inherent problem with some software is that they cannot detect automated attacks from malicious bots before a web page loads. That means web scraper bots, for example, could theoretically pass undetected to some bot management solutions.

Fortunately, Kasada uses hundreds of invisible  invisible sensors that detect the immutable evidence of automation before a request is let on to your online channels. 

Can Bot Management Solutions Protect My APIs?

An enterprise bot management solution can only be effective if it offers protection for all your digital channels. You can rely on Kasada to protect your APIs, along with all your other online channels. Kasada provides a multi-faceted approach to keeping your business secure from automated threats on the Internet.

How Do Bot Management Solutions Affect the User Experience?

If a bot management solution uses challenge-based methods, such as CAPTCHAs to detect and block malicious bots, it can harm the user experience. Your business should avoid such solutions to reduce friction across the customer journey. Instead, consider a bot management solution like Kasada, which uses dynamic methods of detection that are invisible to end-users.

Want to learn more?

  • Why CAPTCHAs Are Not the Future of Bot Detection

    I’m not a robot” tests are definitely getting harder. But does that mean more complex CAPTCHAs are the right path forward to outsmart advancing AI and adversarial technologies?

  • The New Mandate for Bot Detection – Ensuring Data Authenticity

    Can the data collected by an anti-bot system be trusted? Kasada's latest platform enhancements include securing the authenticity of web traffic data.

Beat the bots without bothering your customers — see how.