A lot of businesses do not realize just how severe the threat of a bad bot is. Not only could your security be compromised but malicious bots can impact your profits, reputation, and the future of your business.

A bad bot is a type of bot that has been programmed to perform a number of malicious jobs. They tend to work in an evasive manner, typically being used by cybercriminals, fraudsters, and nefarious parties that are engaged in illegal and immoral activities.

Below, we will help you to understand the real threat of bad bots and the consequences they can have, as well as the ways you can protect your business.

Bad bots are a real threat: Making up a large portion of online traffic

With everyone shopping, working, and living online these days, online traffic is surging. However, it is not only made up of legitimate users. Nearly half of all Internet traffic is automated, with a large chunk of this automated traffic being made up of bad bots.

Here’s what True Alliance, a Kasada customer, had to say about the impact of bot attacks on their business. 

“Almost all types of fraud hitting our websites use bots today. Over the past years, we have seen malicious automation grow in volume and sophistication. Our revenue was at risk, our website performance and customer experience were getting hit, and our IT costs were increasing as we were trying to keep up with the malicious traffic.” – Regan MacDonald, the Group IT Manager at True Alliance

What are the different ways malicious bots can cause havoc?

laptop screen with code across it in dark room

There are so many problems that bad bots can cause today, including the likes of:

Account Takeover (ATO)

Account takeover is when a cybercriminal gains access to your personal details and uses them to unlock your account. Attackers do this by stuffing credentials. A credential stuffing attack involves adversaries using bots to test stolen usernames and passwords across a number of targeted sites to see if the stolen credentials work. Once an attacker gains access to an account they can steal personal or payment information, make fraudulent purchases, or even steal saved loyalty points.

From a business perspective, this is damaging to you on two accounts. Firstly, cybercriminals can make fraudulent purchases on your website, which will then be discovered and refunded to the victim. Therefore, you will lose money from purchases that you thought were legitimate. Secondly, if data is stolen from your site and many of your customers suffer from identity theft, tarnishing your customers’ loyalty and your brand reputation.

Application DDoS

DDoS attacks are becoming increasingly common and a popular method for hackers to bring down a server or network service. DDoS stands for distributed denial-of-service, and it refers to instances where malicious bots flood a server with so much traffic that it can’t maintain its performance. As a result, the server goes down, leading to delays and increased downtime.

Already, this is damaging as it means you miss out on lots of potential traffic, which could be converted into leads and sales, etc. Also, things like ongoing ad campaigns continue to run, but you see no benefits as your site is down. To make matters worse, hackers will often keep your network offline until you pay them to release their bots and let you bring the server back up.

Denial of Inventory

Denial of Inventory involves automated malicious bots taking products out of circulation by adding them to a user’s basket. The purpose of this is to prevent genuine consumers from purchasing the item. The threat actor does not have any intention of completing the checkout process, but they are maliciously trying to stop other people from buying the products in question.

For a business, this means you are missing out on sales as people go to buy things, but there’s apparently no stock available. Therefore, they might visit a rival site and make a purchase there instead.


Very similar to credential stuffing, attackers use your payment system to test lists of stolen credit and debit cards. Carding attacks  can leave you with a poor merchant history that drives up costs and can even make it impossible to accept credit card payments in the future.

Web Scraping

Web scraping involves utilizing bots to extract data and content from a website. Unlike screen scraping, which will only copy pixels that are displayed onscreen, web scraping is able to extract the HTML code that lays beneath the surface, and with this, the data stored in the database. This means the scraper is able to replicate the full content on the site elsewhere.

There can be legitimate uses of web scraping, for example, web scraping can be used by marketing research businesses to pull data from social media and forums. Price comparison websites also make the most of bots to fetch prices and product descriptions automatically.

However, web scraping can also be used for malicious reasons, for example, to steal copyrighted content or to undercut prices. 

Scraper bots are often used to take prices from your site and then use this data to undercut you. As a result, other businesses offer the same products/services at a much lower price than yours, costing you more customers and money.

Scraping attacks can also allow adversaries to create an exact copy of your site in order to trick customers into thinking they are on your legitimate site. From there attackers can sell counterfeit goods, steal payment and/or personal information, or even accept returns of your real products in order to resell them. 

It’s also common for scraper bots to steal content from other sites and place it on theirs. If you are targeted by a scraper, your business may end up experiencing significant monetary losses, particularly if your business deals in content distribution or heavily depends on competitive pricing models.

Spam reviews

Bad bots have also been used by rival businesses to leave false reviews on websites. This can deter other consumers from buying products as it makes your service look poor because of the bad reviews. Again, you lose out on revenue and struggle to find new customers.

Political persuasion

Impersonator bots are often used by politicians to get their points across. They present themselves as social media users, typically posting about political topics and showing support for a certain party. The party themselves could commission these bots, or avid supporters can do it without their permission. You also see bots retweeting or liking tweets that politicians have made, making their points seem more popular than they are.

As such, bad bots present a serious risk to society as they can influence the election results. It is generally agreed that these malicious bots spread disinformation and will often prey on the less informed, making them believe things that aren’t true.

Fraudulent ads

Bad bots are used to disrupt ad campaigns in a couple of ways. Owners of PPC advertising sites may use bots to provide loads of fraudulent clicks on adverts through their system. In turn, clients will be paying them for every click, not knowing that the majority of the clicks are fake.

Similarly, bots can be used to drive up the cost of advertising by generating these clicks. The more clicks there are, the higher the industry rates will be, and someone will profit.

Bots can also be used to abuse promotional offers. An example of this would be a credit for creating a new account. Attackers can use bots to create accounts at scale, giving the attack all of the promotional credits from each account. Promotional abuse is incredibly costly to businesses and hard to detect once the accounts have been created. 

Inventory hoarding

Sneaker bots or scalper bots give attackers an unfair advantage over real customers when an in-demand product is for sale. These sneaker bots started in the sneaker industry, buying out inventory during limited edition sneaker sales. Adversaries then resell the sneakers at a massive markup. Sneaker bot technology has rapidly been adopted for other attack use cases and now used to purchase anything that has limited stock and is in high demand, from concert tickets to the hottest holiday gift. 

These bots can have a huge impact on a company’s reputation. Even though the items are being sold, real customers are left empty handed. To add insult to injury, the customers that could not buy the item in the first place are then forced to pay higher prices to the attackers that are reselling the items. 

Sneaker bots can also drive up operational costs, as they flood your site with web traffic in order to ensure they are able to secure the items.

The consequences of bad bots

person typing on laptop computer

Sadly, malicious bot traffic will not only impact your security posture but it can have a devastating impact on your budget as well.

Bad bots can make a severe dent in your budget

Essentially, you are funding all of the non-human traffic to your online channels – a cost that will never yield any real consumer engagement, sales, or leads.

Downtime caused by denial of service (DoS) can also be very expensive. The cost for a small to medium sized business hourly costs range from $8,000 and $25000. That being said, a one-hour outage cost Amazon an estimated $34 million in sales in 2021. 

The costs do not stop there either. Traditional anti-bot solutions are costly to install and maintain. They need constant management, requiring either dedicated in-house resources or costly professional services charged by the solution provider, furthering the expense.

Bad bots can be detrimental to your conversion rates

Bots can slow down your sites, which will have a negative impact on your conversion rates. It is predicted that conversion rates drop by seven percent for every one-second delay.

Moreover, every one in 10 users who have a negative experience on your website will not return, whether this means your site was frustratingly slow or they were not able to access it altogether. Therefore, if you deliver poor user experience due to bad bot traffic, it’s likely you are going to lose around 10 percent of your customers, which impacts your long-term success and future profits.

A lot of security firms will advise that you use CAPTCHAs to prevent bots, We don’t. Not only are bots becoming more and more successful in defeating CAPTCHAs but they make the humans do the work, which can be incredibly annoying. Recent studies have even found that bots can solve CAPTCHAs faster than humans. Have you ever tried to purchase concert tickets only to find that you were too slow because of the annoying CAPTCHA challenges? Infuriating, right? This is not how you want your customers to feel about your brand. CAPTCHAs cause end-user friction, which will further negatively impact your conversions.

Finding a way to fight back against bad bots

persons hand using computer

While there are bot management solutions available, a lot of them are proving to be ineffective. This is because the fundamental architecture of these legacy anti-bot solutions still give bad bots a way into the infrastructure, which means they are not effective at stopping malicious automation.

Kasada’s bot mitigation solution was built to undermine the motivation behind automated attacks rather than just trying to block bots. Our solution not only utilizes hundreds of sophisticated sensors to detect the immutable evidence of automation, we deter reverse engineering. Botters are nothing if not persistent, blocking the first wave of an attack is only one step in defeating attackers. By using highly obfuscated code we make deciphering defenses extremely difficult, time consuming, and expensive. If a highly motivated and skilled adversary is able to reverse engineer our solution, Kasada’s dynamic nature changes detection for each request, making any learnings useless during future attacks. By making retooling attempts frustrating and costly eventually attackers will give up and move on.     

Not only do we provide you with a solution that remains effective, we work as a partner with our customer. Our solution is hands free eliminating the stress and expenses associated with traditional solutions and the resources required to maintain them. We will also help you to lower unnecessary operational and IT overhead by rightsizing traffic to authentic human user traffic only.

We don’t use outdated techniques like CAPTCHAs either. Instead, we will increase conversion rates through a frictionless and invisible experience for customers. Through eliminating bot-driven downtime and latency, we can help you to protect your online revenue and reputation.

In this way, we implement bot mitigation solutions in a manner that extends beyond security. Not only do we offer your business protection but we give you the ability to improve competitiveness, operating margins, and revenue.

Test your website today to see if you’re protected from bad bots

The best thing to do today is to adopt a bot mitigation solution and test your website to see if it can detect bad bots. Run our free assessment and we will provide you with the full results and analysis so you can get a better understanding of the current state of your own defenses against bad bots.

Want to learn more?

  • SMS Fraud Takes A Toll: The Evolving Threat of SMS Pumping and Toll Fraud

    After a crack down on SMS fraud, adversaries have shifted their approach.

  • Freebie Bots: The Latest Threat to Retailers

    Steep discounts drove Cyber Monday online sales to hit record highs, but some discounts were created by mistake.

Beat the bots without bothering your customers — see how.