It’s no secret that a large chunk of daily Internet traffic isn’t from human users, but rather from automated software programs called bots. There are many kinds of bots online, such as those used by search engines to index web page content. Although some are good bots, not all of these bots are well-intentioned. Malicious bots take over accounts, scrape and steal online content, and overload servers. As you can imagine, these “bad” bots can be destructive to organizations of all sizes and can significantly impact their bottom line.
A practical way to filter out bot activity on your business website is through using bot management solutions. In this blog post, we break down why you should utilize them to deter bot attacks. If you have any questions after reading this, you are welcome to contact sales at Kasada for more information.
What Is Bot Management?
In a nutshell, bot management identifies bot activity and stops bad bots from doing their damage, while allowing good bots through. Different types of bots could infiltrate your web apps or mobile apps, causing potentially bad traffic for your business. A bot manager is essential to protecting your data and business.
These days, 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.
A web application firewall protects against a variety of cyberattacks. It sits between a web application and the Internet to inspect all traffic coming in and going out. The web application firewall uses a set of rules and policies to identify and block malicious traffic. These business rules are based on known attack signatures. Any organization that uses web apps should implement a web application firewall.
Bots are sophisticated and automated software programs. If you don’t have the right bot management solutions in place, you could be letting malicious software target your network – and your business. Application security is essential to ensure only good bots and users can access your data.
It is crucial to implement bot detection before an issue arises on a web application. A bot manager can help you get started and prevent account takeover from bot attacks.
Good Versus Bad Bots
One of the fundamental processes of bot management for enterprise is to distinguish between good and bad bots. But, what is the difference between the two? Good bots don’t have any malicious intent and only seek to enhance a human site visitor’s user experience.
For example, a “good” search engine bot merely indexes the content on each page and respects requests to ignore specific pages. However, a “bad” bot will ignore those requests to build up a complete database of page content for later targeted attacks.
There are a whole host of good bots and bad bots out there. A good bot should not present issues for your company. However, the technology behind those bots evolves, so it’s crucial that any bot management solutions used by companies can identify those evolving bots and act accordingly. A bot manager can help you understand and track bot traffic.
5 Shocking Statistics About Malicious Bots
Periodic research studies often get conducted to visualize the scale of the problem when trying to identify malicious bots and their intent. The ugly truth about malicious bots is they aren’t going away any time soon.
Bad bots get developed by their creators for various reasons, none of which is ethical, moral, or even legal. Malicious bots often exist at the behest of individuals or hacking groups, other companies, and even government agencies worldwide.
The following five statistics illustrate the impact of malicious bots on today’s businesses, including enterprises like yours:
1. Global eCommerce Fraud to Reach $20 Billion in 2021*
One of the leading effects of malicious bots on eCommerce businesses is lost revenue through fraud. When bad bots disrupt customer experiences, they can cause issues like web server or network downtime.
Other financial effects can include customers switching to rival companies due to lost confidence and the inability to collect payments for products and services due to severed payment system connections.
Some malicious bots can even create fake user accounts and use fraudulently obtained payment card information to pay for orders. As a result, afflicted companies can even lose revenue due to fulfilled products and services for those orders.
2. 43% Of All Login Attempts Get Caused by Bad Bots**
Malicious bots can target online resources in many ways, and one of the most common methods is via automated login attempts. In 2017, a report stated that almost half of all online login attempts are malicious.
The bad bots in those statistics attempted to gain entry to online accounts by entering account details obtained elsewhere online, or by simply guessing the password via repeated brute force attacks.
What’s more shocking is the figure might even be higher as the statistics only take into account login attempts using email addresses as usernames, rather than separate username IDs.
3. Downtime From Targeted Attacks Can Cost up to $540,000 per Hour***
It’s no secret that online targeted attacks on businesses from malicious bots can cause a raft of problems. When a business becomes the subject of an attack that brings its networks down, it can cost between $140,000 to $540,000 per hour.
As you can imagine, companies must scramble to secure their online resources following such attacks from bad bots. Dealing with repeated attacks is untenable for businesses, and can even shut down some businesses due to such catastrophic losses.
4. 50% Of All Global Bot Traffic Is Malicious****
Did you know that almost half of all Internet traffic comes from automated bots instead of human users? The percentage of non-human traffic depends on who you ask, but less than half of all traffic originating from bots is a fair and conservative estimate.
Each day, a good bot helps improve a human’s user experience, such as provide product and service price comparisons. Some bots, such as search engine spiders, index website content to help users receive relevant results to their search queries.
However, the other half of all bot traffic seeks to steal financial and personally sensitive information, often so the data can get sold to the highest bidder in places like the dark web.
5. Over Half of eCommerce Checkout Page Traffic Is From Malicious Bots*****
Last but not least, one final shocking statistic about malicious bots you should keep in mind is how 60% to 70% of all traffic to eCommerce website checkout pages comes from bad bots. Why would malicious bots strike during such a stage of the customer journey?
The leading reason is fraud. Malicious bots that have successfully logged into a website will attempt purchases of products and services using stolen card details. They might do so by logging into a legitimate customer’s account or creating a new one using stolen information.
Here are some other examples of the reasons why controllers of those malicious bots end up at eCommerce site checkout pages:
- Denial of inventory – buying (with stolen financial information) or reserving products to result in them being out of stock and causing reduced conversions;
- Abuse of special offers and discounts;
- Skewing reviews of products and services to damage a brand’s reputation.
***** Source: eCommerceTimes.com
10 Reasons Malicious Bots Are Bad for Business
There is no denying that malicious bots wreak all kinds of havoc for enterprises. The level of intensity 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.
If you’re a business owner, you might be wondering which specific activities malicious bots can be bad for business. The following is a top ten list, in no particular order, of the reasons why malicious bots are bad for business and why bot mitigation is necessary:
1. Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks
You’ve probably heard of Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks in the past. The way a DDoS attack works is simple: large networks of malicious bots (or compromised computer systems and IoT devices) simultaneously attack servers with requests.
Due to the simultaneous nature of DDoS attacks, server resources and bandwidth get stretched to levels where websites, mobile applications, and other Internet-based services become unavailable. You can use rate limiting to combat DDoS attacks. Rate limiting controls the rate of requests sent or received.
Many botnets also hijack the resources of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, given their prevalence in today’s modern world, to carry out DDoS attacks against servers and online services. In previous years, DDoS attacks were primarily caused by computer workstations due to IoT devices.
A computer workstation can cause a DDoS attack if it’s infected with malware, such as a botnet. A botnet is a network of compromised computers that a malicious actor can use to carry out illegal activities, such as a DDoS attack.
2. Credential Stuffing
Another way that malicious bots can cause mayhem for businesses is through a process known as credential stuffing. In a nutshell, credential stuffing is where information obtained from a data breach gets used for logging into an unrelated service.
For example, a cybercriminal might use information taken from a retail website to try and log into accounts on a bank’s website. Cybercriminals use automated brute force methods on websites and other online services until they can log into accounts successfully.
The success rate for credential stuffing is only up to 2%. However, when cybercriminals have thousands or millions of stolen login credentials, the work involved is worth it for them.
3. Fake Account Creation
Some malicious bots will use brute force methods to create fraudulent user accounts. Once they’ve been successful with their attempts, they will then use those accounts to conduct other nefarious acts.
One example is purchasing gift cards from the website they’ve attacked using stolen credit card and debit card information.
If those purchases are successful, the cybercriminals behind such malicious bots can then sell those gift cards for cash. Another way that malicious bots can cause payment fraud is by testing stolen card details on small purchases that won’t get flagged up as suspicious.
Should any of those cards be valid, criminals can use them to fund more significant purchases, such as high-ticket items or several gift cards that can get exchanged for cash.
4. Slower Website Performance
When malicious bots target a web application, one way that it can negatively impact a business is by causing the company’s online resources to slow to a crawl.
Although most web servers and content delivery networks are durable and can handle thousands of simultaneous visitors, they can quickly run out of resources like RAM to process the extra requests caused by bad bot traffic. Bot attacks can wreak havoc on web servers if bot detection is ignored.
As you can imagine, a slow website or web application can ruin a customer’s experience and potentially drive them towards competitor sites. In turn, that will result in lower sales conversions and leads, and even a negative reputation on social media and elsewhere.
5. Web Scraping
Web scraper bots aim to crawl websites and retrieve digital assets from page content or other storage resources, such as databases. Examples of the assets that web scrapers can extract include price information, images, and hidden data.
Some web scraper bots legitimately collect data, with developers receiving prior approval from site owners. Price comparison websites are typically the most common use for legitimate web scraper bots.
However, the Internet is also awash with malicious web scraper bots. Such automated software will usually harvest copyrighted text or access pricing data, the latter allowing a bot’s operator to undercut competitors that sell similar products and services.
6. System Takeovers
One of the telltale signs that malicious bots are attempting to take over your systems is when you notice a lot of recent unusual website behavior. The most common example is bots repeatedly scanning your site for code weaknesses that can expose you to hacking attacks.
The malicious bots might try repeated login attempts, and your website logs might indicate a high level of recent failed logins. Another way that malicious bots can try to take over your website or network is through SQL injection.
SQL (Structured Query Language) is a programming language used for developing and maintaining data in a relational database; examples of such databases include MySQL and Oracle.
7. Negative Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
An attacker might want to set up a website or an eCommerce site and use copyrighted or other protected data from competitors. They do so with tools like web scraper bots to populate their website content quickly.
In a nutshell, it’s an automated way of copying and pasting information from web pages. For many attackers, the primary motivation is to rank well for specific keywords and phrases, ultimately diverting customers away from the legitimate source with minimal effort.
Another motivational factor is to cause negative search engine optimization (SEO) for competitors. The attacker might be another business looking to drive down each competitor’s sites by causing them to rank poorly due to duplicate content.
They may have no intention of selling anything or fulfilling orders from their “fake” websites; their only goal is to boost the SEO of their own legitimate websites.
8. PPC Click Fraud
If you thought negative SEO was bad enough, another way that malicious bots can tarnish your online brand is by “clicking” on your PPC ads through automated means. How does that happen, you might ask yourself?
Some unscrupulous businesses or individuals use malicious bots to target ads and “virtually” click on them, resulting in PPC click fraud. They do so because they want to eliminate their competitors and drive more traffic to their own sites.
As you can appreciate, PPC click fraud is a waste of advertiser resources and budget.
9. Inventory Hoarding
Global eCommerce retail sales reached $4.28 trillion in 2020, a 28% increase from the previous year. eCommerce sales worldwide have consistently climbed over many years, and experts predict they will increase by a further 14% in 2021 from the previous year.
With that information in mind, there is also a consistent threat of malicious bot activity. Some unscrupulous entrepreneurs will use bots to fill online shopping carts with in-demand products, buy them, and then resell them on other platforms at inflated prices.
It’s a problem that happens each year and has become more significantly noticeable during 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic causing problems in supply chains – particularly in the electronics industry.
10. Skewed Analytics
When nefarious elements of the Internet launch DDoS attacks that result in networks, websites, and other web applications becoming unavailable, it can skew analytics data in several ways.
For instance, it can make an online service appear busier than usual when the reality is traffic spikes got caused by malicious bots. Also, those same bots could create non-existent sales leads on eCommerce websites by creating and abandoning carts.
Such an impact might not seem harmful at first. However, skewed analytics caused by malicious bots can result in poor marketing decisions due to invalid metrics and, of course, wasted marketing and advertising budgets.
How Does Bot Management Work?
You undoubtedly see increased traffic to all your online channels. More people are buying products and services online, and more people are spending lots of time browsing the web and using social media.
By now, you have a thorough understanding of how malicious bots can impact activity to your online channels, and you want to do what it takes to minimize the impact they can have on your business. Bot management for enterprise businesses can help. A bot manager helps with bot detection and prevents bad traffic to your web applications.
The thing is, how exactly do they work? Bot management solutions work by differentiating human and bot traffic. They must then determine whether bot traffic attempting to access a website or other online resource is legitimate or malicious.
A bot management solution can achieve that goal in one of several ways:
Analysis tools parse HTTP header information and other web requests to identify known malicious bots. Static methods of bot management are passive.
Note that CAPTCHAs can be bypassed by sophisticated malicious bots or CAPTCHA farms, so Kasada’s technology eliminates the need to use CAPTCHAs or other challenge-based methods of detecting bots.
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.
While the above methods have their pros and cons, it makes sense to opt for a proprietary bot management solution, such as Kasada. Proprietary methods use an array of interrogative formulas and techniques, resulting in the most accurate and effective solution while still providing a superior customer experience.
Why Should I Use Bot Management Solutions?
Perhaps the biggest reason to use bot management solutions is that they will mitigate malicious bot threat intelligence. A bot manager will help you protect your websites, APIs, online resources, and brand from attacks and help you maintain your brand’s reputation.
Bot management addresses the technical and business challenges posed by malicious bots. The following reasons explain in more detail why you should use bot management solutions as part of an arsenal of security tools to protect your business online:
Controls Malicious Bot Activity
When you use an effective bot management solution, you will discover that you’ve got a powerful security tool at your disposal. Malicious bots can wreak havoc on any business, irrespective of its size or location, and they can do so in numerous ways.
Bot management solutions like Kasada offer businesses an adaptive and resilient way of controlling malicious bot activity through an array of core technologies. The best bot management solution is one that evolves with the changing landscape of bot threat intelligence.
Real-Time Detection and Identification of Malicious Bots
Let’s face it: there is no point in implementing bot management as part of your online security strategy if it doesn’t offer the right protection. With that in mind, your future bot management solution must offer real-time bot detection and identification.
An effective bot manager should also determine whether a non-human visitor to your website or online resources is a good bot or a bad one.
Also, it should give you the ability to block legitimate but unnecessary bots, such as search engine web crawlers from countries that you don’t service.
Boosts Website Performance
Whether you only provide information on your website or you use it as your eCommerce platform, one thing’s for sure: you want your site to operate at lightning-quick speeds constantly.
Some people assume that’s a consideration that only relates to on-site SEO and your physical web server’s hardware specification. However, bots – especially malicious bots – can eat up system resources and slow your site down. Even an efficient web server can experience issues when bot traffic gets out of hand. A bot manager can reduce malicious bot traffic and provide ways to preserve your web server and ensure high application security.
When you deploy bot management for your website, you will boost your website’s performance and minimize visitor bounce rates. You can rest assured that network traffic is regulated to only allow good bots and prevent bad actors from gaining access. A bot manager is designed to combat different types of bots attempting to access your web server.
Drives Down Costs
The hardware, software, and network connectivity that underpin your company’s online activities aren’t free, nor do they come cheap. As your enterprise grows, so too will your operating costs, particularly those relating to your Internet resources.
It’s no secret that the key to any successful business is keeping operating costs low to maximize profit. Bot management solutions like Kasada will help your company drive down costs that may have increased due to bad bot behavior and bad actors on your networks.
Stops Fraud and Potential Data Breaches
Malicious bot attacks aren’t likely to cease; if anything, they will only increase as more people use the Internet. That’s why it’s essential to keep ahead of attackers with a cutting-edge bot management solution for your business.
When you choose the best bot management for your company, you won’t need to devote lots of time “managing the manager” – leaving you free to concentrate on other areas of your business.
Also, you won’t need to worry about getting defrauded or malicious bots using brute force methods attempting to find security vulnerabilities. A bot management solution like Kasada will help keep your website and online resources secure and improve the user experience.
Bot Management FAQs
When it comes to selecting the right bot management solution for enterprise businesses, you need to know there isn’t a “one size fits all” option available for everyone. Each company will have differing requirements, so it’s essential to choose the right solution for yours.
For example, 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. We include bot management in our application security portfolio so you can be prepared if and when bad bots strike.
Can They 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. What’s more, it doesn’t depend on IP addresses and historical behaviors, making it the most effective tool in the fight against malicious bots. Kasada only allows good bots and legitimate users to access your website.
Can They 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 an invisible client interrogation process and telemetry in the decision engine to search for immutable evidence before a page load event.
Could Bot Developers Reverse-Engineer Bot Management Solutions?
One fact about bot developers that you must keep in mind is most of them alter their bots to get around detection software and algorithms that they might encounter. They might not reverse-engineer bot management solutions, but they can try to find ways around them.
It makes sense to use bot management software, such as Kasada, as it obfuscates its code and encrypts data to make the ability of reverse-engineering the solution extremely difficult.
How Long Do Bot Management Solutions Take to Deploy?
A bugbear that business leaders often find with enterprise-level bot management is how complicated, slow, and frustrating it is to deploy such solutions. They can sometimes take a long time to configure and adjust before companies see the benefits of their investments.
The good news is all bot management solutions aren’t as challenging to deploy. Kasada, for example, boasts time-to-value of just 30 minutes.
That means your business can begin blocking malicious bots that cause automated attacks on your networks in only half an hour without needing further or continuous adjustments and fine-tuning.
Is All Unblocked Traffic From Real Human Sources?
One fact you will soon discover about many bot management solutions is how they claim all unblocked traffic comes from human sources, and they’ll provide a breakdown of blocked sources.
The truth is, most solutions won’t tell you that some unblocked sources will contain bots. Good bots are often allowed access. Kasada is more transparent in that respect and gives you visibility into all your data – not just some elements of it.
That way, you’ll know that Kasada is stopping bad bots and giving you a true insight into all the sources of your unblocked traffic.
What are False Positives and How Can I Prevent Them?
False positives are when bot detection incorrectly identifies a legitimate user as a bot. An actual user is unable to complete an action online. When false positives occur, a user may be asked to complete a captcha request or the web application could block the user completely.
False positives are not good for business. They can threaten users’ access and usability of your website. You can determine which conditions work best to prevent and block bad bots. At Kasada, we can help you understand and manage false positives.
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 Does Machine Learning Work in Bot Management Solutions?
Bot management solutions typically use machine learning to detect and block malicious bots while allowing legitimate traffic to pass through. Machine learning uses artificial intelligence and computer science to imitate how humans learn. The data collected from machine learning can be used to detect different types of bot traffic. Here’s a general overview of how machine learning works in bot management solutions:
- Data Collection: Bot management solutions gather large amounts of data about web traffic, including user behavior patterns, IP addresses, user agents, and other metadata.
- Feature Engineering: The data is then processed to extract features that can be used to distinguish between legitimate and malicious traffic. This involves identifying patterns and relationships between different data points.
- Model Training: Next, machine learning models are trained using labeled data. This involves feeding the machine learning algorithms with examples of both legitimate and malicious traffic, so the algorithms can learn to distinguish between the two.
- Model Testing: Once the machine learning models are trained, they are tested to ensure they can accurately distinguish between legitimate and malicious traffic. This is done using a separate set of labeled data the models haven’t seen before.
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.
Consider a bot management solution like Kasada, which uses dynamic methods of detection that are invisible to end-users, which means that you can get rid of CAPTCHAs altogether.
Can Bot Management Solutions Work With CDNs?
Many bot management solutions protect against malicious bots and allow good bots if you use a content delivery network (CDN). Most CDNs are third party services. You should avoid software solutions that force you to work with a specific CDN provider.
Kasada gives you the flexibility to work with any CDN provider of your choice. It also continues to protect you if you decide to change your CDN provider as your business needs evolve.
Why Should I Choose Cloudflare Inc. as my CDN?
Cloudflare Inc. is an American IT service management company that provides web security services. They are one of the best CDNs out there and one of Kasada’s integrations. Cloudflare Bot Management can stop bots in their tracks. Their service prevents credit card stuffing, inventory hoarding, and price scraping. They use layered bot defenses and mobile API traffic support against malicious bots. Cloudflare Bot Management has dynamic response capabilities and provides detailed bot visibility. It takes less than 24 hours to get set up with Cloudflare Inc. and their Cloudflare Bot Management solutions.
Bot management is undoubtedly an effective way of preventing malicious bots from attacking your networks and online assets like websites and eCommerce sites.
Choosing the right one for your organization will ensure you have consistent protection while offering flexibility as your business grows. Check out our checklist of 10 questions you should ask when evaluating bot management solutions, and contact sales to learn more about our bot management solution.