Bot Detection

The Rise of the Intelligent Bot Revolution

February, 16, 20226 min Read

Last year, attackers used bots extensively to launch successful large-scale attacks across industries. Although businesses invested more in bot mitigation solutions, sophisticated orchestration of attacks will become the new norm over the next three years. Fraudsters are investing more into tools that make bots appear more human-like and leaving fraud and security teams with 3x more complex attack signatures to assess instantaneously.

Fraud attacks are increasing with the digital realm becoming central to an average consumer’s daily life. From work to socializing, education, entertainment and eCommerce, digital has become a way of life.

Consumers are using multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and gaming consoles to connect to the internet. The proliferation of digital accounts means an exponentially larger attack surface for fraudsters to target, leveraging an ecosystem of tools and resources to deploy bot attacks easier than ever before.

Bots make attacks cost-effective

Attackers are in the business of making money. They try to maximize the returns with the least possible investments; and bots provide them with a cost-effective option. Attackers can acquire and deploy bots easily, and they use bots to launch thousands of attacks in a matter of seconds. Using bots to scale up the attacks means even if a small percentage of the attackers’ efforts succeed, they can still make enough profit.

Attackers use bots to create fake new accounts and execute credential stuffing attacks that power account takeover of consumer accounts. In 2021, 21% of all attacks leveraged credential stuffing.

In terms of monetization, attackers adopt several methods to monetize compromised consumer accounts. For instance, they can steal the funds and financial information, redeem loyalty points, or simply sell account credentials to third parties. Attackers use fake new accounts to scrape content, hoard inventories, disseminate spam, and launch phishing campaigns.

The intelligent bot revolution

Bot attacks persist as a colossal challenge for digital businesses. During 2021, attackers used bots extensively to target businesses across all industries. Our research shows a steady increase in bot traffic during 2021 with 86% of all attacks being automated.

As bots become more advanced and acquire human-like capabilities, they are able to engage in nuanced interactions with greater accuracy and bypass fraud defenses. Intelligent bots can emulate human behavior and responses with greater accuracy. They can simulate mouse movements and key presses to appear as human.

Attackers are using the advanced capabilities of intelligent bots to orchestrate complex attacks, including hybrid human-bot ‘cyborg’ attacks. They use multiple scripts to perform different functions of an attack, which makes bot signatures even more complex. These intelligent bots also enable attackers to exploit the digital front-end with new monetization opportunities.

Intelligent bots make detection three times more complex

In 2021, despite investing in bot prevention solutions, businesses faced the scourge of automated attacks. Attackers bypass bot prevention tools using automation and human click farms. They use easily and cheaply available off-the-shelf bot programs to solve basic CAPTCHAs in no time.

They evade detection using headless browsers, IP and fingerprint spoofing, and tactics such as impersonating legitimate consumers through complex signatures. To circumvent defenses that require more nuanced human interaction, attackers deploy human click farms. All these activities increase the number of data points and the effort that fraud teams need to put in for collection, review, and analysis.

Evolved bot activities and the resulting complexity requires more sophisticated bot detection. Fraud teams need to analyze three times more values in an average bot signature to confidently detect anomalies. With high financial incentives driving the evolving attack strategies, businesses should expect greater complex attack signatures to become the norm from bots and hybrid attacks over the next few years.

Key strategies for advanced bot detection

In today’s digital-first economy, bots are becoming more intelligent and attacks are evolving at a breakneck speed. Businesses cannot continue to rely on the traditional defense methods alone. Ineffective defenses mean additional burden on the fraud teams; requiring them to review and assess discrepancies manually. Fraud teams need multi-layered detection and real time analysis to uncover faults in the bot’s story across network, device, and behavioral signals.

It is imperative that businesses upgrade their security posture to be able to protect multiple touchpoints and adapt to the evolving attack tactics. They must leverage advanced technologies such as machine learning and supplement them with an authentication challenge-response strategy. Doing so will allow them to meet the current fraud dynamics, validate suspicious traffic programmatically, and alleviate manual reviews. This combination will also help them stop even the most advanced bots and frustrate human CAPTCHA solvers for better account security, without introducing unnecessary friction for genuine consumers.

To keep up with evolving attack patterns in 2022, digital businesses need advanced bot detection capabilities. They must consider including the following strategies in their arsenal.

  • Investing in IP Intelligence:

    A more robust IP intelligence will force attackers to spend more on proxy IPs, which will increase the cost of an attack and make it less attractive.

  • Advanced Spoofing Detection:

    A sophisticated device fingerprinting can help businesses better detect automation that tries to mimic human behavior and obfuscates the characteristics of the device.

  • Bot Response Strategy:

    Instead of relying on a clear ‘block’ or ‘accept’ strategy, businesses must prepare to fight complex attacks with multiple response options that include challenge and alert strategies.

  • Machine Learning:

    Investing in a sophisticated detection platform can help businesses detect patterns using probabilistic, statistical, and machine learning-based models.

Make the digital world safer now and for the future

Arkose Labs is on a mission to create an online environment where all consumers are protected from malicious activity. We collaborate with global brands to safeguard their consumers across multiple touch points in a way that does not hinder the digital experience.

Our latest 2022 State of Fraud and Account Security Report is a deep-dive into the evolving attack types and patterns to help businesses understand the imminent industry-specific threats. We also share the best practices digital businesses can adopt to make the digital world safe for everyone – now and in the future. 

To learn more, request your copy of the report here.

Don't miss a webinar "Everything You Need to Know about the Intelligent Bot Revolution" with Himanshu on Feb 23, 1 pm EST.