Bot Attacks / Bot Detection / Bot Management

Tech the Halls: A Savvy Guide to Beating Holiday Bots

November 21, 20237 min Read

Tech the Halls A Savvy Guide to Beating Holiday Bots

Amidst supply chain challenges and economic unpredictability, retailers anticipate a more measured holiday shopping season. But even with the potential decline in overall e-commerce sales, cybercriminals won't be hitting the pause button. Rest assured, malicious actors are gearing up to unleash a heightened wave of e-commerce attacks, particularly intensifying between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and persisting throughout the season.

As the holiday season approaches, cybercriminals are sharpening their tactics for financial gain, leveraging the festive chaos to exploit opportunities ranging from scalping and web scraping to card testing and account takeover fraud. Armed with sophisticated automated tools and scalable techniques, threat actors strategically position themselves for success. What intensifies these seasonal threats is the growing presence of malicious bots and fraud farms, intricately woven into cyber schemes. These bots, essential components of cyber onslaughts, add a layer of complexity, allowing threat actors to magnify their impact and capitalize on vulnerabilities.

Charting Cyber Threats in e-Commerce: A Strategic Compass
Charting Cyber Threats in e-Commerce: A Strategic Compass

Hot Deals on Holiday Cyber Threats

Online businesses, and particularly e-commerce and internet retailers, must be vigilant of these hot holiday scams:

Gift Card Fraud

Among the top holiday attacks, gift card fraud is a deceptive practice where cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in e-commerce systems to illicitly obtain or manipulate gift card information for financial gain. Typically, fraudsters employ various techniques, such as hacking into databases, phishing schemes, or using stolen credit card information to purchase gift cards. These ill-gotten gift cards are either resold on the dark web or used to make unauthorized purchases, causing financial losses to both businesses and consumers.

Payment Firm Foils Gift card Fraud With Arkose Labs
Payment Firm Foils Gift card Fraud With Arkose Labs

e-Commerce businesses should be particularly vigilant about gift card fraud during the holiday season due to the surge in online shopping activities. The increased volume of transactions creates an opportune environment for fraudsters to capitalize on the chaos, potentially leading to revenue loss, damage to brand reputation, and customer dissatisfaction. Implementing robust bot security measures and closely monitoring gift card transactions becomes imperative for online businesses seeking to safeguard their operations and maintain trust with their customer base.

Holiday shopper perusing the internet for gifts

Grinch Bots

Aptly named after the holiday mischief-maker, grinch bots are a type of automated software designed to exploit online retail environments during peak shopping seasons. These bots are programmed to rapidly purchase large quantities of highly sought-after items, causing inventory shortages and creating artificial demand. Utilizing advanced algorithms, grinch bots can navigate through websites, swiftly adding items to carts and checking out, often outpacing human shoppers.

e-Commerce businesses should be concerned about grinch bots as they can lead to frustrated customers, diminished brand reputation, and lost revenue. The automated and relentless nature of these bot attacks poses a significant challenge for businesses aiming to maintain a seamless and fair shopping experience for genuine holiday shoppers.

Freebie Bots

These automated tools are designed to exploit promotional offers, discounts, and giveaways by swiftly and systematically claiming them in large quantities. Operated by cybercriminals, freebie bots use advanced algorithms to navigate online platforms, overwhelming systems and depleting inventory. This not only undermines the fairness of promotions but also hampers genuine customers' access to limited-time deals.

e-Commerce businesses should be wary of freebie bots during the holidays as these malicious tools can lead to increased operational costs, inventory issues, and a diminished customer experience. Mitigating the impact of freebie bots requires implementing robust bot mitigation and monitoring promotional campaigns closely to ensure fair access and maintain a positive shopping environment for legitimate customers.

Loyalty Abuse

This deceptive practice is a growing concern for e-commerce enterprises, and refers to the exploitation of loyalty programs and rewards systems. It happens when bad actors manipulate transactions and create fake accounts to gain unauthorized benefits. This deceptive practice poses a significant threat, particularly during the holiday season, as attackers take advantage of increased transaction volumes to engage in nefarious activities. e-Commerce businesses should be on high alert, as loyalty abuse not only results in financial losses but also erodes the trust of genuine customers and compromises the effectiveness of loyalty programs.

Online shopper using mobile application during holidays

Solver Bots

Solver services are designed to crack CAPTCHAs, solve puzzles, and bypass security measures meant to distinguish between human and automated interactions. By mimicking human behavior, solver bots can maliciously infiltrate websites, enabling cybercriminals to carry out a range of activities from scalping to purchasing limited-edition items in bulk. The concerning reality is that traditional CAPTCHAs, once believed to be robust safeguards, often prove ineffective against the advanced tactics employed by bots. By seamlessly mimicking human behavior, these bots infiltrate websites with malicious intent, empowering attackers to engage in a spectrum of activities—from scalping to bulk purchasing limited-edition items.

e-Commerce businesses should be deeply concerned about solver bots during the holidays as the surge in online traffic provides cover for these sophisticated tools. Their ability to compromise security measures poses a risk to fair access, product availability, and overall customer satisfaction.

Bad actor launching holiday cyberattack

Defending Against Holiday Bots

The objective this time of year, and around the calendar, is to thwart all manner of bots while still maintaining a frictionless buyer experience. It's crucial to strike a balance since deterring bots from your site becomes inconsequential if it leads to the departure of genuine human customers. To assist in preventing bot attacks across your website, mobile apps, and APIs, consider these four essential steps, tips, and questions.

  • Uncover the understand the bot landscape: Delve into the specific threats and hazards that could target your business. Explore the current demand for your products or services and conduct an immediate test to pinpoint potential bot threats. Evaluate the spectrum of OWASP automated threats that could potentially affect your applications.
  • Eliminate fraudsters and malicious bots to gain web traffic insight: During peak periods, your bot traffic may surge to 10 times your typical volume, distorting metrics and leading to an undesirable customer experience. Purge your bot traffic to gain a comprehensive understanding of consumer behavior while simultaneously cutting down on infrastructure costs.
  • Optimize customer satisfaction, boost conversions, and drive revenue growth: Employ bot prevention software to secure your products against fraudulent attempts, ensuring they reach legitimate customers. Invest in security solutions that fortify protection without imposing additional friction on your users.
  • Stay vigilant for the unexpected: Compile your roster of anti-bot vendors and review it diligently. Traditional holiday readiness measures may fall short if bots are infiltrating your website, apps, and/or APIs. True e-commerce holiday preparedness involves anticipating the unexpected and cultivating the agility to adapt on the fly.

Arkose Labs Kicks Holiday Bots

Arkose Labs stands as a formidable guardian against the infiltration of holiday bots. With the cutting-edge technology and proactive approach of both Arkose Bot Manager and Arkose MatchKey, we employ a multifaceted strategy to thwart malicious bots during the festive season.

Arkose Labs protects the most targeted user touchpoints

Leveraging advanced detection mechanisms and real-time analysis, we ensure online businesses are shielded from the disruptive influence of holiday bots attempting to exploit websites and applications.

By constantly evolving and staying ahead of emerging threats, Arkose Labs not only stops holiday bots in their tracks but also empowers online enterprises to maintain the integrity of their platforms, safeguarding user experiences and bolstering bot security during the peak times of holiday traffic.

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2023 Cybercrime Prevention Playbook
2023 Cybercrime Prevention Playbook