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BizReport : Internet : April 18, 2019

Report: How bad bots are harming business

Web scraping, competitive data mining, personal data harvesting, data breeches, ad fraud, transaction fraud, spam. All of these - and more - are a problem for businesses and consumers alike, and are becoming more prevalent because of the use of "bad bots" by fraudsters and even legitimate businesses. Just how big is the bad bot problem?

by Kristina Knight

"Bot operators and bot defenders are playing an incessant game of cat and mouse, and techniques used today, such as mimicking mouse movements, are more human-like than ever before," said Tiffany Olson Kleemann, CEO of Distil Networks. "As sophistication strengthens, so too does the breadth of industries impacted by bad bots. While bot activity on industries like airlines and ticketing are well-documented, no organization - large or small, public or private - is immune. When critical online activity, like voter registration, can be compromised as a result of bad bot activity, it no longer becomes a challenge to tackle tomorrow. Now is the time to understand what bots are capable of and now is the time to act."

Distil Network's new report indicates more than 14 billion credentials - logins and passwords - have been stolen since 2013. These credentials are used on business login pages and do everything from scrape pricing and content to taking over accounts and even creating new accounts. Distil estimates that about 62% of digital traffic is still human, but traffic from bad bots is up to 20% and traffic from good bots stands about 17%.

While that is a decrease in YoY bad bot traffic, the real problem is that bad bots are becoming more sophisticated in how they use credentials and mimic human interactions, making them harder to spot. Looking at specific areas, Distil's report indicates about 42% of traffic to financial sites is from bad bots, 39% of ticketing traffic comes from bad bots, and 37% of education traffic is bad-bot related. Another problem? Most bad bots report as coming from specific browsers, specifically Google Chrome, Firefox, IE, and Safari. And about 73% of bot traffic coming from data centers. Additional findings from the report include:

▪ 1 in 5 2018 website requests were from bad bots
▪ 73% of bad bots are considered Advanced Persistent Bots, meaning they cycle IP addresses, mimicking human behavior and changing identities
▪ Amazon is the largest originator of bad bot traffic with 18% originating there

"Bad bots continuously target all of these industries daily, with defenses requiring constant optimization. Every industry is attacked to check the viability of stolen credentials. Some are hit by sophisticated bots that repeatedly perform a specific task, such as checking credit card numbers. Another may be scraping for pricing content, while a third may be victimized by bad bots checking gift card balances," write the authors of the report. "Every bot problem is unique; factors to consider include the nature of the business, its website content, and the goal of the adversary. The bad bot problem affects every industry. But each company has a unique bad bot problem."

More findings from Distil Network's 2019 Bad Bot Report can be accessed here.

Tags: 2019 Bad Bot Report, bad bots, bot traffic, bot trends, Distil Networks

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