As technology has advanced, and enterprises continue to realize their digital transformations, so have the risks for enterprises, regardless of industry. One such challenge is the growing population of online bot traffic.
While good bots, like web crawlers or chatbots, can improve the user experience, bad bots can harm an enterprise in various ways. From phishing attacks to spam, malicious bots can cause costly security breaches, decrease user engagement, and hurt an enterprise’s reputation, among other things.
To address the threat posed by bots, many enterprises have begun to implement bot mitigation tools. Bot mitigation is the process of identifying and blocking harmful bots while allowing good bots to access the website.
For a deeper understanding of the threat posed by today’s advanced bots, read our ebook, The Ultimate Bot Prevention Playbook
The Ultimate Bot Prevention Playbook
Why bots are a concern for businesses
Modern enterprises are under threat from bot attacks that can steal user credentials, content, and resources. Automated script bots can clog up the system's resources and search engine efficiency, affecting the main functionalities of a website or web application. Additionally, bad bots have the potential to pose significant damage to brand reputation and consumer trust, as they can steal sensitive information, payment data, customer data, and even the inventory of online stores. To prevent bot attacks or scraper bots from bogging down applications, bot mitigation offers different methods of stopping bot traffic for businesses to protect their web assets. It is an essential security measure that should be put in place to protect websites and mobile applications.
Types of bots and their impact
Bots are software applications designed to automate tasks online. They can be helpful, like search engine bots that crawl and index web content for a Google search or chatbots that act as an arm for an enterprise’s customer service department. Good bots can even support online strategies and engage with customers. However, certain types of bots – automated by cybercriminals – can have more malicious intent, such as spider bots, web scraping bots, and spambots. These bots are commonly used to steal information or inventory, send spam emails or deliver phishing messages to trick users into providing sensitive information or downloading malware, among other things.
A botnet, on the other hand, is a group of devices or computers running at least one internet bot, which can be controlled remotely by a bot herder. Botnets can be used to perform a variety of malicious activities at scale, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks or data theft.
Impact of bots on the user experience
Bots, even good ones, can impact the user experience and take up valuable bandwidth. The risks associated with bad bots, however, can have negative impacts on an enterprise. For instance, bots can click on ads, which results in the loss of revenue, especially when done at scale. Additionally, bots can steal content and carry out illegal activities, like buying up tickets to popular events with the aim of reselling them for profit. Social bots can also negatively influence the user experience by spreading false information or leaving poor reviews on online marketplaces like Amazon or social media networks.
Costly security breaches
Bad bots can pose a significant risk to enterprises and other organizations with potentially costly consequences. When bots overload servers, this can cause websites to malfunction, similar to a DDoS attack. Additionally, malicious bots can gain unauthorized access to enterprise servers, leading to costly security breaches, theft of intellectual property, and fines. For example, credential stuffing bots can gain access to sensitive data, including customer information like credit card numbers and delivery addresses, while scalper bots can unfairly inflate prices for popular products. All of this, including inventory, can be bought and sold on the dark web for a profit.
Spam and malicious content
Bad bots pose several risks to websites and online platforms. Spambots, for instance, scrape contact details from websites and social media platforms to create fake accounts. They also harvest emails for spam campaigns or to distribute malware. These activities indirectly increase costs for internet service providers and choke server bandwidth.
Malicious bots, such as credential stuffing, phishing, and botnets used as part of a denial of service, can cause major data breaches that leak personal information and website downtime. In addition to spambots and malicious bots, social media bots can be used to disseminate ideas and disinformation, send spam emails, accumulate fake followers, and automatically follow users.
What is Bot Mitigation?
Given the prevalence of bots and their impact on enterprises, bot mitigation should be an imperative part of an enterprise’s cybersecurity strategy. Bot mitigation refers to measures taken to reduce the risk of bad bot traffic to enterprise web applications and backend services. In particular, a key aspect of bot mitigation is filtering traffic to accept good bots and block malicious ones.
Making things more challenging for enterprises is that more traditional or legacy methods of bot detection cannot detect all hostile bots, making a more advanced bot management solution necessary. With modern bot mitigation solutions, like the one provided by Arkose Labs, humans and good bots can use websites as normal, like shopping without experiencing friction, while malicious bots are stopped before they can commit their attacks or steal from enterprises.
Ultimately, it is up to enterprise security teams to choose the right bot mitigation techniques to keep their site safe from bad bots. This can include investing in security technologies, like a web application firewall (WAF), and remaining vigilant in analyzing website traffic for suspicious activity.
Importance of proactive bot mitigation
While it can often feel like cybercriminals and their bot hordes have the upper hand, there are proactive strategies that enterprise security teams can take to stop malicious bot traffic. Proactive bot mitigation involves detecting and preventing bot attacks before they occur by analyzing network traffic and identifying patterns of behavior, including behavioral analysis that is backed by data that can indicate bot activity. This approach is more effective at preventing damage from bot attacks, but it can also be more complex to set up.
Reactive bot mitigation, on the other hand, involves identifying and blocking bots after they have already infiltrated a site. This means that security teams may not know that they are under attack, or they have been infiltrated by malicious bots, until it is already too late.
Implementing – and getting around – CAPTCHAs
CAPTCHAs, or reCAPTCHAs, are one common bot mitigation technique and are designed to distinguish between bots and human users. Implementing CAPTCHAs involves showing a challenge to users that only a human can solve, such as identifying specific objects in an image, solving a simple math equation, or typing in a specific word or phrase. One of the biggest challenges in implementing bot mitigation is getting around CAPTCHA challenges. While CAPTCHA challenges can help distinguish between bots and human users, they do not always deter bots. In fact, more advanced bots can even solve many of the legacy CAPTCHAs on the market! Additionally, older CAPTCHAs often do not differentiate between legitimate users or consumers and malicious bots. This means that your customers may be forced with the annoyance to solve frustrating and time-consuming challenges, which hurt the good user experience.
Arkose MatchKey challenges, on the other hand, cannot be solved by bots and are designed to meet modern threats head on. Additionally, Arkose Labs’ bot mitigation solution and challenges can differentiate between legitimate human users and malicious bots. This means that malicious bots are stopped in their tracks with targeted friction via Matchkey challenges, while consumers will most likely experience little to no friction at all.
Arkose Labs bot management solution
As bots continue to become more advanced, bot protection is more important than ever. Bad bots can create multiple issues ranging from affecting user experience to security breaches, spamming, and fraudulent activities like account takeovers. By implementing bot mitigation, backed by analytics, enterprises can proactively stop malicious bots in their tracks.
Bot mitigation with Arkose Labs – including MatchKey challenges – is context-based, rendered in real-time, provides actionable insights and visibility, and is backed by the latest in machine learning technology. This causes automatic and machine-based solvers and spam bots to fail.
With automation removed from the equation, the financial returns from the attack begin to diminish. To make good the loss, cybercriminals must invest more time, effort, and resources. However, the adaptive step-up challenges slow down their progress to an extent that the attack loses its financial viability, forcing attackers to abandon the attack and look elsewhere.
If you are looking for an advanced bot mitigation solution, be sure to book a demo with us to learn more.