CXO Bytes

The Age of Bots is Here, Businesses Need Bot Management for Good & Bad Bots

The closest imitation of humans and their tasks are done currently is by a software application – Bots. They are mostly being used to give human-like experiences in customer services and other interactive vectors like – chatbots, shopbots, knowbots, spiders or crawlers, monitoring bots, etc. For this reason, tech experts call this ‘the age of bots’, the best example of this disruptive tech tool is ChatGPT, a chatbot. Businesses need to understand that this is the right time for them to invest in bot management solutions because these are times when bots are overpowering businesses.
What is bot management and how unique is Radware bot management?
Bot management refers to blocking undesired or malicious internet bot traffic while still allowing useful bots to access web properties. Bot management accomplishes this by detecting bot activity and it is necessary because their traffic causes websites to slow down. Malicious bots can erase or download content from a website, steal user credentials, rapidly spread spam content and lead to other cyberattacks. Radware Bot Manager provides specialized enterprise-grade defence against sophisticated bots that carry out malicious attacks. It offers an array of mitigation options on the market including a unique Crypto Challenge that enables legit users to browse CATPCHA-free.
It is understood that bot management is needed to help manage bot traffic – good and bad. But what is a good bot and what is a bad bot? More such questions need to be answered to get a deeper insight into why bot management is a necessary and important inclusion.
The good, the bad and the unknown side of bots
By definition, good bots are internet bots that don’t cause any harm or provide benefits and value to their owner or users. On the other hand, bad bots are internet bots made with malicious intent behind them. Bad bots can create fake social media accounts to spam users and businesses with negative or inappropriate comments and even spread fake news. A website trying to block or mitigate bot traffic must do so without stopping any of the good bots, which perform a range of useful functions. Here’s a list of bots to help organizations understand what types of bots exist and give organizations an understanding of why bot management is necessary:
Types of good bots
  • Monitoring Bots: Monitors the uptime and system health of the websites
  • Backlink Checker Bots: Checks the inbound URLs a website is getting so that marketers and SEO specialists can derive insights and optimize their site accordingly
  • Social Network Bots: Bots that are run by social networking websites giving visibility to websites and driving engagements on their platforms
  • Partner Bots: Useful to websites and carry out tasks, transactions and provide essential business services
  • Aggregator/ Feed Fetcher Bots: Collate information from websites and keeps users or subscribers updated on news, events or blog posts
  • Search Engine Crawler Bots: These bots or spiders crawl and index web pages to make them available on search engines
Types of bad bots
  • Scraper Bots: These bots are programmed to steal content such as prices and product information so that they can undermine the pricing strategies of the target website
  • Spam Bots: They primarily target community portals, blog comment sections and lead collection forms. They interfere with user conversations, troll users, and insert unwanted advertisements, links and banners
  • Scalper Bots: These bots target ticketing websites to purchase hundreds of tickets as soon as bookings open and sell them to reseller websites at many times the original cost of the ticket
  • Account Takeover – Account takeovers include credential stuffing, password spraying, and brute force attacks that are used to gain unauthorized access to a targeted account. Credential stuffing and password spraying are two popular techniques used today. Once hackers gain access to an account, they can begin additional stages of infection, data exfiltration or fraud.
  • Scraping – Scraping is the process of extracting data or information from a website and publishing it elsewhere. Content price and inventory scraping is also used to gain a competitive advantage. These scrape bots crawl your web pages for specific information about your products. Typically, scrapers steal the entire content from websites or mobile applications and publish it to gain traffic.
  • Inventory Exhaustion – Inventory exhaustion is when a bot is used to add hundreds of items to a cart and later, abandon them to prevent real shoppers from buying the products.
  • Inventory Scalping – Hackers deploy retail bots to gain an advantage to buy goods and tickets during a flash sale, and then resell them later at a much higher price.
  • Carding – Carders deploy bots on checkout pages to validate stolen-card details, and to crack gift cards.
  • Skewed Analytics – Automated invalid traffic directed at your e-commerce portal can skews metrics and misleads decision-making when applied to advertisement budgets and other business decisions. Bots pollute metrics, disrupt funnel analysis, and inhibit KPI tracking.
  • Application DoS – Application DoS attacks slow down e-commerce portals by exhausting web servers resources, 3rd party APIs, inventory databases and other critical resources to the point that they are unavailable for legitimate users.
  • Ad Fraud – Bad bots are used to generate Invalid traffic designed to create false impressions and generate illegitimate clicks on websites and mobile apps.
  • Account Creation – Bots are used to create fake accounts on a massive scale for content spamming, SEO and skewing analytics.
If a malicious bot targets an online business, it will be impacted in one way or another when it comes to website performance, sales conversions, competitive advantages, analytics or user experience. The good news is organizations can take action against bot activity in real time, but first, they need to understand their own risk before considering a solution.
  • E-Commerce – The e-commerce industry faces bot attacks that include account takeovers, scraping, inventory exhaustion, scalping, carding, skewed analytics, application DoS, Ad fraud, and account creation.
  • Media – Digital publishers are vulnerable to automated attacks such as Ad fraud, scraping, skewed analytics, and form spam.
  • Travel – The travel industries mainly deal with scraping attacks but can suffer from inventory exhaustion, carding and application DoS as well.
  • Social Networks – Social platforms deal with automated bot attacks such as account takeovers, account creation, and application DoS.
  • Ad Networks – Bots that create Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT) target ad networks for Ad fraud activity such as fraudulent clicks and impression performance.
  • Financial Institutions – Banking, financial and insurance industries are all high-value targets for bots that leverage account takeovers, application DoS or content scraping.
Symptoms of a Bot Attack
  • A high number of failed login attempts
  • Increased chargebacks and transaction disputes
  • Consecutive login attempts with different credentials from the same HTTP client
  • Unusual request activity for selected application content and data
  • Unexpected changes in website performance and metrics
  • A sudden increase in the account creation rate
  • Elevated traffic for certain limited-availability goods or services
Taking the Good with the Bad
Ultimately, understanding and managing bots aren’t about crafting a strategy driven by a perceived negative attitude toward bots because, as we’ve explained, bots serve many useful purposes for propelling the business forward. Rather, it’s about equipping your organization to act as a digital detective to mitigate malicious traffic without adversely impacting legitimate traffic.
Organizations need to embrace technological advancements that yield better business performance while integrating the necessary security measures to guard their customer data and experience.
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About Radware
Radware® (NASDAQ: RDWR) is a global leader in cyber security and application delivery solutions for physical, cloud, and software-defined data centers. Its award-winning solutions portfolio secures the digital experience by providing infrastructure, application, and corporate IT protection, and availability services to enterprises globally. Radware’s solutions empower enterprise and carrier customers worldwide to adapt to market challenges quickly, maintain business continuity, and achieve maximum productivity while keeping costs down. For more information, please visit the Radware website.
(The author is Mr. Navneet Daga, Sales Director – Cloud Security Services, Radware and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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