If you’re running an online business, chances are you’re already familiar with the idea of bots. Bot traffic can account for a significant portion of your website traffic, and it can have a significant impact on your analytics and business performance. But what is a bot, and how can you detect and block it? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about detecting and blocking bot traffic.
What is a bot?
A bot is an automated program that is designed to perform repetitive, usually simple tasks. As automated programs and scripts outperform human users at doing tasks at large scale, they are used extensively to collect information from the internet and the target objects are usually websites or apps. We call that non-human traffic bot traffic.
Almost half of all internet traffic is from bots. Among the bot traffic, these can be categorized into good bots and bad bots. Good bots can do good things such as search engines, batch processing data, monitoring websites and so on to greatly relieve human users’ burden. Approximately 60% of all bot traffic is from bad bots and these bad bots can do malicious activities, from stealing web content to taking over user accounts or even Distributed Denial of Service(DDoS) attacks, to hurt your online business or overwhelm a server’s resources to slow down your service speed.
Let’s explore different types of bots to have a better understanding of bot traffic.
Different types of bots
Bots were initially introduced to do repetitive tasks for humans to increase efficiency and relief the workload.
- Search engine bots: Search engine bots are crawler bots operated by Google, Bing, and other search engines. These bots constantly crawl the internet and the results are shown to the people based on what they search. It’s one of the most important information channels these days.
- Site analytic bots: These bots monitor and analyze the website’s traffic to identify the health status of the site.
- Copyright bots: Copyright bots constantly crawl copyrighted content from the internet to make sure nobody illegally uses copyrighted content. These kinds of bots protect the intellectual property of the business.
- Chatbots: Chatbots are set up to answer users with programmed responses. Chatbots greatly relieve the workload of the service team.
Cybercriminals and fraudsters use bad bots to carry out malicious activities, bothering most industries including e-Commerce, gaming, travel, health, financial firms, etc. Each type of bot is very industry-specific and the pre-programmed strategies are highly related to the business process that is targeted.
- Denial-of-Inventory: These bots perform automated attacks that deplete goods or services stock without ever completing the purchase or committing to the transaction.
- Content Scraping: The process of extracting data from a website or online platform. It is a type of web harvesting and can be used to collect data from webpages, images, emails, and other digital content.
- Credential Stuffing: Stolen usernames and passwords are used to gain unauthorized access to online accounts. It is a form of automated attack where a malicious actor uses a list of stolen credentials to try to gain access to multiple accounts on multiple websites.
- Ad fraud: Ad fraud bots fabricate and simulate a number of clicks and views of real users generally generating extra PPC cost and skewing the website analysis.
- Gift and credit card fraud: These bots perform brute force attacks to enumerate millions of stolen card information to get the valid ones.
- Scalping: Scalping involves buying and selling a security at a very fast rate, usually within a few minutes, in order to make a small profit.
- Spamming: It is a form of online abuse that is used to promote a product or service, spread malicious content, or send phishing emails. Spamming can be done manually or via automated tools and can be used to target individuals or large groups of people.
The consequences of bad bots
Bad bots may cause various problems for different industries. Some of them are:
- Overwhelm the server’s resources and slow down the speed of service from being attacked by botnet;
- Bad actors click ads massively to increase the ad cost or hoard the inventory to stop legitimate users from making purchases, both of which lower the conversion rate;
- Intellectual properties like original content, videos or images are crawled by attacks secretly and used somewhere else.
How to identify bot traffic?
Bots evolved from basic automated scripts to more sophisticated programs that can even mimic human behaviour. Still, there are some basic symptoms that can easily indicate bad bot traffic:
- Spike traffic in page views and a high bounce rate
- An abnormal increase in failed login attempts
- High shopping cart abandonment rate and low purchase rate
- A sudden increase in ad cost and low conversion rate
- Site loading speed is slow
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Detecting and blocking bot traffic is an important part of running a successful online business. In this comprehensive guide, we’ve covered everything you need to know about detecting and blocking bot traffic, from what a bot is to best practices for bot detection and blocking. By following the advice in this guide, you can protect your website from malicious bot traffic and improve the accuracy of your analytics. Try our demo to start detecting and blocking bot traffic today.