Around 40 to 70% of all internet traffic is automated, according to estimates. Software such as web crawlers, spiders, or an army of bots account for about half of all internet activity.
A large portion of automated traffic is believed to have been generated by bad bots.
These bots can cause problems for anyone who manages an online business or website. These bots can do a lot of bad things and cause more damage than your website.
What is a bad bot?
What are bad bots?
Bad bots are software programs that automate the deception and damage of internet-based networks. They can be used to do relatively simple, but annoying tasks like posting spam comments on social media or websites. They can also be used for serious cyber crimes like data theft, credit card fraud, or ad fraud.
Machine learning algorithms are often used by modern bad bots to improve their performance and automate more tasks.
To perform its tasks, however, a bot needs a task master. This can be either a human controller or an automated process that collects data or copies of itself.
These bots are often spread by viruses and other malware. Bots require a host computer in order to function. They can be operated from either a click farm, bot farm, or central location.
They can be distributed to infected devices or data centers around the globe, creating a network, also known by a botnet.
In fact, the majority of bad bots were found to be operating from Amazon Web Server (AWS), and Microsoft Azure data centers.
What are the various types of bad bots?
Bad bots can come in many flavors and levels. While bots may be designed for specific activities, they can also serve as a tool for cyber fraud.
These bots are easily mobilized by fraudsters because of the large network of botnets. These botnets are actually available for hire on the darknet at relatively low prices.
The majority of bot attacks online that are malicious use older botnets.
These are the most popular types of malware bots that you will see online:
Spam has been a constant threat to our email inboxes. Spam can do more than just clutter up your inbox. Black hat SEO professionals can use spam bots to post poor comments and backlinks on forums and websites.
Advanced spam bots can also perform spam injection. This happens when a bot uses your website’s file system to add hidden content, such as redirects, spam comments and hidden pages.
This spam injection technique is used to create backlinks for clients or generate traffic to low-quality sites such as gambling, narcotics, and adult sites. This is clearly a disruptive method of adding backlinks, and it goes against best practices guidelines. The consequences can be very damaging for your site with multiple penalties and additional headaches for both you and your customers.
Learn more about SEO spam injection.
Scraping of content
A few bots are capable of collecting data and information from the web, which is something that takes a lot more time than it would for a human. However, content scraping bots are also capable of copying or spoofing entire websites.
Fraudsters who use website spoofing to perpetrate phishing scams and fake product scams are well-known for using it. A scammer can copy your website and trick customers by pretending it is their own.
Popular ecommerce websites are a common target. Scammers may want to imitate the layout and product lines of these sites to deceive customers. Content scraping can impact any business, not only those that sell products online.
Visit our blog to learn more about content scraping.
Fake engagement bots
Fake engagement is one of the most popular reasons for bots. This happens on social media. Statistics reveal that fake followers can make up between 10% and 40% of a popular influencer’s total audience.
These fake engagement bots are also used to view YouTube videos, stream Twitch livestreams, and even listen to music via sites like Spotify. Inflating engagement can boost an account’s popularity, although it is possible to do so fraudulently.
Fake engagement could also include traffic to websites. This is known as ad fraud. It’s used to increase clicks or views on advertisements hosted on websites.
Fake traffic isn’t difficult to find or expensive. For a fraction of the cost of a cup of coffee, you can create huge amounts of fake traffic.
Learn more about viewbots, the world of fake engagement and social media
We’re talking about which…
d fraud or click fraud bots
Click fraud is a fake engagement with paid ads. It is believed to be responsible for around 90% of all Google Ads campaigns. There are many levels of click fraud.
Concurrents or brand haters often click on ad to click fraudulently, and then waste their budgets.
Click fraud can also be committed by website publishers who hire traffic bots to visit their websites and improve their viewing metrics. This is not only for revenue, but it can also be used to trick partners into believing that the site has more visitors than it actually does. This usually results in higher-paying guest posts.
Ad fraud is also known as organized click fraud. Criminals use a campaign to perform high levels click fraud for profit. Drainerbot, Hyphbot, and Methbot are just a few of the most well-known ad fraud campaigns.
Learn all about the Hall of Infamy for Ad Fraud Click Bots
Credential stuffing bots
Also known as account takeover bots or brute force login robots. These bots can crack passwords, steal data or take over accounts. Similar bots are also used for credit card fraud or carding, which is a process in which multiple payment cards can be tried within a short time period to determine which one works.
These bots are capable of cracking the code in mere seconds. Credential stuffing bots can use common passwords to great effect to crack complex passwords. Change your password immediately if it is ‘admin/password’ for any logins.
The crypto mining bot is a prime example of a multi-use botnet. This malware can be injected into websites and web browsers using infected software (often via email attachments or bootlegs) and then remote mines bitcoin or other crypto currencies.
Crypto mining botnets can be repurposed to attack DDoS or other coordinated bot attacks.
Malicious bots can be designed to cause damage, fraud, and extortion. Ransomware is the most well-known of these types. Ransomware bots can access a website to shut down the website and cause major disruption to businesses until a ransom is paid.
Ransomware attacks cost around $20 billion per year, according to estimates as of 2022.
DDoS, or distributed denial-of-service attack, is another form of attack that can be used to target websites. A website can be taken offline by overloading it with trash bot traffic. Fraudsters can coordinate DDoS attacks to get a ransom or malicious individuals looking to disrupt the internet.
How bots can get around security controls
While many platforms have a variety of security measures in place to prevent bad bot traffic, some systems are just not sufficient. Google filters are used to block fraudulent traffic, but these bots can still get through. They can change their IP addresses and mimic human behavior, or use device spoofing to appear to be genuine users.
Device spoofing is a technique that allows bots to appear as if it were mobile devices or desktop computers anywhere on the planet.
Many of the major platforms are now playing catch-up because these bots are constantly evolving and changing.
With so much traffic coming in from bad bots this has led to a boom of the bot blocking industry.
Bad bots are a huge threat to the online economy
Global cybercrime is estimated to have caused global economic damage of $1 trillion to $6 trillion by 2021.
This covers everything, from ransomware to fraud.
Ad fraud, which accounted for more than $41 billion in the 2021 cybercrime pie, is actually the largest slice. Comparable to credit card fraud, which was only $31 billion that year.
Can robots.txt be used to block bots that aren’t good?
Many website owners know that the robots.txt command is used to block certain bots from indexing or crawling pages on your website. Robots.txt can be used to stop bad bots from crawling your website’s pages.
No, unfortunately not.
Robots.txt is often ignored by bad bots. They may also use it to signify that they are going to visit the page for more useful information. Robots.txt won’t be able to help you in your fight against bad bots.
For better business, block bad bots
There are many options available to block bad bots. One thing is certain: businesses require some type of bot protection in order to protect their clients as well as their security.
This could be stopping spammers from infecting malware or other content to your website, or preventing fake traffic from your ads.
ClickCease is the industry leader in click fraud prevention and has been blocking bot traffic and malicious clicks on PPC ads from 2015. It’s more than blocking bots from paid search engine results.
ClickCease’s Bot Zapping tool is now available for WordPress sites. It blocks bad bots and fraudulent web traffic. This includes spambots, credential stuffing robots, content-scrapers, and many other types.
ClickCease and Bot Zapping are two ways to block bad bot activity from your website.
You can conduct a free audit of your website and verify the validity of traffic sources with the 7-day trial.
Register today for your free trial
The post What are Bad Bots? How can they impact your business? ClickCease Blog published the first version of this article.
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