With the rapid advancement of the Internet and AI technology, bots are now ubiquitous. Some bots provide valuable assistance, while others are used with malicious intent, contributing to bot traffic.

Bot traffic covers all automated systems accessing your websites, mobile apps, and APIs. In fact, at least 50% of traffic on your websites may come from bots, and 1/3 of the overall global traffic consists of malicious bots. Consequently, bot detection has become essential for businesses to safeguard against online fraud and security threats.

What is Bot Detection?

Bot detection is the process of identifying traffic in websites, mobile apps, and APIs, and distinguishing automated bots from human users. It is crucial to determine which bots are trustworthy and which need to be blocked to prevent cyberattacks like stealing content, spreading spam, account takeover, etc.

Types of Bot

The bot is an automated program or script that can imitate human behavior to different levels of sophistication, and it comes in many forms, both legitimate and malicious.

Legitimate bots include search engine crawlers that index web content, site monitoring bots like WordPress pingbacks, and chatbots that help users with their inquiries. Malicious bots, on the other hand, are designed to perform tasks that can damage businesses or users.

types of legitimate bots and malicious bots

Importance of Bot Detection

Since bots can efficiently deliver web services at scale and low cost, they enable cybercriminals with minimal technical skills to launch large-scale attacks. This makes bot detection increasingly important, which is the first step in preventing the most severe security threats in today’s online world.

Without effective bot detection, you might not even realize you are under attack. Some bot attacks, such as account takeover fraud and web scraping (including price scraping), can go unnoticed until it’s too late and significant damage has occurred.

Meanwhile, detecting bots is becoming increasingly challenging. Bot developers are continually finding new methods to bypass standard security measures that many companies use. Effective bot detection requires a combination of specialized expertise and advanced technology, such as AI and machine learning.

Growing Threats of Bot Attack

As mentioned above, the scale of malicious bot traffic is vast and increasing. The expanding target digital channels (from websites to mobile apps, API, etc.) combined with cheap, easily available, and even sophisticated bots and automated scripts primarily contribute to this trend.

Bot attacks come in many different forms today, cybercriminals can tailor their attacks according to the defenses of target businesses. Consequently, enterprises have become more susceptible to these attacks.

Bot Attack Strategies

  • Long-Term Low Attacks: Criminals start long-term attacks discreetly, deploying bots that mimic human behavior and spoof identities to evade detection. They target peripheral customer touchpoints such as posting fake reviews, manipulating video votes, and exploiting in-game economies.
  • High-Volume Basic Bot Attacks: Malicious actors the sheer volume of simple or unsophisticated bots to maximize their impact. With high volume, even a small percentage of successful bot attacks can result in substantial financial gains. For instance, activities such as spam—low-value but high-volume—only require a few users to click on malicious links to become profitable.
  • Advanced and Accuracy Attacks: Sophisticated bots use machine vision technology to avoid detection. These bots can accurately mimic real users, often fooling bot management systems.
  • Human Attack Farms: These involve a mix of bots and human attack farms (low-wage workers who execute attacks for cybercriminals). When bots can't bypass sophisticated bot-prevention measures, human attackers take over.

Suffering Bot Attack Indicators

There are several signals indicating that your websites, apps, or APIs may be under attack from malicious bots, including:

  • Unexpected surges in pageviews
  • Extremely high and rapid bounce rates
  • Unusually brief or extended session durations
  • Traffic spikes from unfamiliar locations
  • Invalid or worthless conversions

Challenges of Bot Detection

Many evolving factors contribute to the increasing challenge of bot detection, including:

  • Expanding Digital Channels: As digital channels expand to include not just websites but also mobile apps, APIs, and more, bot attackers have widened their scope. This complicates bot detection, as each unprotected endpoint presents a potential risk.
  • Low Cost of Attacks: Bots and scripts are readily available on the internet at affordable prices, making them ideal for launching large-scale bot-driven attacks.
  • Sophisticated Bots Attacks: Bots now incorporate AI models, browser emulators, and exploit interfaces/protocols. Attackers may also employ human attack farms to utilize real devices instead of simulated ones, spanning different times and locations.
  • IP Rotation: Bots can cycle through millions of clean, residential IPs, typically sending only one or two requests per IP before switching to another. Many security solutions, including WAFs, rely solely on IPs to differentiate between bots and humans, making them vulnerable to this tactic.

Traditional Methods of Bot Detection

Enterprises used to adopt three main approaches to mitigate and combat malicious bot attacks. Yet, the inherent limitations of these traditional methods make it challenging to effectively defend against the evolving threats posed by bots.

Web Application Firewalls (WAFs)

Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) protect websites and apps by filtering out malicious activities such as SQL injections, session hijacking, and cross-site scripting through predefined rules.

However, WAFs rely heavily on recognizing known attack signatures to differentiate between good and bad bot traffic. This limits their effectiveness against modern, sophisticated bots that evolve continuously and may not display typical attack patterns.

Additionally, certain bot attacks, such as account takeover fraud, mimic legitimate user behavior, which WAFs may overlook because they often rely on IP reputation for decision-making. With bot operators increasingly using high-quality, residential IPs that change frequently, WAFs are becoming less effective in identifying and preventing bot-related threats.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) requires users to provide two or more pieces of evidence to verify their identity before granting access. While effective for securing accounts, MFA can introduce significant user friction and places responsibility on customers to safeguard their accounts, limiting its role as a comprehensive security solution.

Moreover, while MFA helps defend against credential stuffing and account takeovers, it does not shield businesses from other types of damaging bot attacks, such as scrapers, scalpers, or DDoS attacks.

Traditional CAPTCHAS

CAPTCHA is an acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.” It is designed to distinguish whether a genuine human user or an automated bot makes the submission. Fraudsters have been exploiting systems with automated attacks since the early days of the Internet. CAPTCHA saved us from bot threats at the time.

However, as the sophistication of bots keeps increasing, traditional CAPTCHAs (like reCAPTCHA) have become problematic for many reasons. Firstly, traditional CAPTCHAs are not good at identifying sophisticated bots and CAPTCHA farms. On the other hand, they are not designed for ease of use. For example, it takes humans 10 seconds to solve an image CAPTCHA on average.

Advanced Bot Detection Solution: Geetest Adaptive Captcha

Bot protection is crucial for preventing online fraud, making effective bot detection techniques more important than ever. To safeguard your business and customers, advanced bot protection that covers your websites, mobile apps, and APIs is necessary.

Geetest has launched an advanced bot detection solution, GeeTest Adaptive CAPTCHA, designed to identify, mitigate, and manage human-based and bot-driven malicious bot attacks, which has been named as one of the top Bot Detection and Mitigation Tools.

As a superior alternative to traditional CAPTCHA, GeeTest Adaptive CAPTCHA utilizes sophisticated methodologies. This bot detection solution enables enterprises to proactively detect and prevent automated threats, ensuring the security of operations across websites, mobile apps, and APIs.

  • Active and Dynamic Bot Mitigation: GeeTest Adaptive CAPTCHA takes adaptive security strategies, it can proactively defend before attackers with 7-layer dynamic protection and up to 4374 security strategies per cycle. The adaptive strategies ensure continuous updates of the risk database, and GeeTest Adaptive CAPTCHA also actively introduces labeled parameters captcha_token to flag suspicious users' data, continually monitoring abnormal users' behaviors to prevent sophisticated attacks such as captcha farm.
  • Powered by Machine learning and AI training: The adaptive strategies are powered by Machine learning and AI training, this enhances security performance by collecting data for its risk engine to identify malicious features precisely.
  • Anti-Browser Emulator and Interfaces/Protocols Exploitation: GeeTest Adaptive CAPTCHA is equipped with the ability to recognize and counteract common emulators, capable of discerning genuine browsers. And it has employed code obfuscation and parameter encryption on the client side to thwart any attempts at cracking.
  • Real-Time Reporting and Analytics: Customers can manage and detect GeeTest Adaptive CAPTCHA with a traffic analysis dashboard of the intelligent system. It can keep websites, apps, and APIs secure by identifying traffic anomalies in real-time, getting advanced analytics of attack patterns, and setting up customizable bot detection.
  • Cost-Effective Solution for All Sizes Business: GeeTest Adaptive CAPTCHA supports various customized options, such as CAPTCHA difficulties, types, styles, and more. It supports WEB, WAP, iOS, Android, Html5 and is compatible with all browsers (IE6 and later), which is a flexible and cost-effective bot detection and mitigation solution for businesses of all sizes.


With the accelerating menace of bot attacks, businesses must take proactive steps to protect their online assets. Bot detection is the first step to defend against malicious bot attacks and ensure a safe digital environment for enterprises and customers.

As a leading provider of bot detection and mitigation solutions with over 12 years of experience, Geetest with its enterprise-grade CAPTCHA services has protected over 360,000 websites and mobile applications worldwide, processing over 1 billion requests daily.

Learn more about how Geetest offers an enterprise-grade CAPTCHA solution for escalating bot attacks. Register or try the Demo of GeeTest Adaptive CAPTCHA now!

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