An automated traffic bot is a software program or script that generates large volumes of fake, non-human traffic for websites. They can work non-stop, 24x7 and are far faster than humans. They help businesses increase the visibility of their websites on search engines and generate more leads. Since these bots can work without human intervention, normal bot detection methods cannot spot them.
As bots continue to acquire advanced capabilities and become specialized, attackers are using them to power a plethora of complex attacks, namely:
- credential stuffing
- account takeover
- fake new account generation
- International Revenue Share Fraud (IRSF)
- API abuse
- price scraping
- token cracking
- Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
Types of automated traffic bots
There are several types of specialized traffic bots that can automate specific tasks, save human effort, and achieve scale. However, the most popular automated traffic bots are the ones that can mimic human behavior to manipulate analysis.
Some of the commonly used automated traffic bots include:
- Search Engine Bots are used to index webpages on search engines and directories.
- SEO Crawlers are used to improve website rankings on search engines through crawling and using the data to improve organic traffic and search engine visibility.
- Social Media Traffic Bots are used to generate large volumes of traffic for social media platforms as well as to like, follow, and share.
- Monitoring Bots regularly ping the website to ensure that the website is always live and accessible. In case the site goes offline, these bots can trigger notifications for immediate corrective action.
- Knowledge Bots collect analytics data from different websites.
- Shopping Bots scan online stores to find the best deals.
- Copyright Bots scan the web to ensure that copyrighted content or images of a business are not being used illegally or without permission.
- Web Scrapers scrape user information such as email addresses, contact details, images and content from various websites, which is then used to fuel several types of criminal activities.
- Spam Bots are used to fill out forms on the websites using stolen user information as well as to disseminate unsolicited messages to users’ email addresses.
- DDoS Network is composed of highly specialized automated traffic bots that are dangerous and used to target a website or server with the objective of making them inaccessible to genuine customers.
- Vulnerability Scanners scan websites for potential vulnerabilities and report to the attacker, who can then exploit these vulnerabilities for criminal activities.
- Click Fraud Bots are specialized bots that target paid ads and click them frequently to produce fake traffic.
- Scalper Bots are used to outpace human customers in securing fast moving goods such as event tickets or limited edition items.
- OTP Bots are used to extract one-time passwords (OTPs) from consumers without human intervention.
Benefits of automated traffic bots
Owing to their speed and the ability to perform specialized tasks, automated traffic bots can help generate the required traffic for a website. Businesses can use this traffic for testing purposes or to improve go-to-market strategies.
Automated traffic bots also promise the following benefits:
- Attract real visitors
- Improve the Click Through Rates (CTR) of a website
- Improve visibility and ranking of a website on search engines
- Get SEO crawlers to scan webpages
- Generate more leads and sales
- Perform the assigned tasks round-the-clock and without stopping
- Work without human assistance
- Work faster and help achieve scale
- Test the performance of a hosting server
Disadvantages of automated traffic bots
The growing sophistication of automated traffic bots, especially the ability to mimic human behavior, is not only a nuisance for security teams but also a growing challenge for overall security of the business.
Our research shows that automated attack signatures have become 3x more complicated than before, making it increasingly difficult to stop them. Greater complexity of attack signatures translates into an increase in the number of details needed for analysis, thereby making bot detection more challenging than ever before.
Ignoring automatic traffic bots is a mistake that no business can afford to commit, given that nearly two-thirds of internet traffic is made of bots¹. These bots can quickly grow into a security threat that can cause financial and reputational losses. For instance, businesses may suffer:
- a drop in the conversion rates
- massive financial losses accrued from DDoS attacks
- a deluge of support calls from irate customers experiencing ATOs
- expenses on restoring the compromised user accounts
- additional mitigation costs due to failure of subpar defense solutions
- degradation of user experience that can lead to customer churn
How automated traffic bots work
An automated traffic bot is a software program that sends visitors to websites without their knowledge, such as by adding links to the outgoing mails.
Depending on the desired outcome, automated traffic bots can be used to automate specific tasks, without the need for human assistance. For instance, automated traffic bots can mimic human behavior to generate traffic for websites and social media accounts. They can also be used to increase revenue from ads by repeatedly clicking on pay-per-click links.
Since automated traffic bots can work nonstop and perform repetitive tasks with speed and accuracy, they help their users achieve scale. Automated traffic bots perform activities that appear to be normal, however, if left undetected can result in generating large volumes of targeted traffic.
What makes a good automated traffic bot?
One of the most important parameters for a good automated traffic bot is its ability to generate large volumes of genuine-looking traffic without getting detected. Bots that can mimic human behavior and interact with anti-bot solutions just like humans, are considered good traffic bots.
Some of the other features of a good automated traffic bot are as described below:
- Time: The longer an automated traffic bot spends on a webpage, the better it is. Longer duration is a signal of good content for search engines.
- Network: To avoid detection, automated traffic bot should be able to generate traffic from genuine residential networks.
- Region: The bot should be able to generate traffic from the area that the business operates in, else it runs the risk of quick detection.
- Consistency: The bot should be reliable enough to generate useful traffic consistently, without any random spikes or surges that can make it easy to detect.
Some examples of good automated traffic bots are UseViral, Media Mister, Spark Traffic, Traffic Creator, Epic Traffic Bot, Babylon Traffic, and Hit Leap among others.
How can businesses prevent automated traffic bots from visiting their digital platforms
To protect their digital platforms from a deluge of automated traffic bots, it is essential that businesses check their website stats frequently. This will help them spot anomalies and unusual surge in traffic, which may indicate automated traffic bot activity.
Further, businesses can block IP addresses that these bots use, deploy anti-spam solutions, and work with vendors, such as Arkose Labs, that have a proven record in bot management. This will enable them to protect their digital platforms from potential abuse.
Manage automated traffic bots with Arkose Labs
Most off-the shelf bot detection solutions are unable to distinguish between bot-driven and genuine human traffic. This inability can hamper their efforts to block malicious bots from causing harm to their digital platforms and user experience. Furthermore, the inability to tell good bots from malicious bots can impact their visibility on search engines.
Arkose Labs helps businesses accurately spot malicious bots and prevent them from exploiting digital platforms, without slowing down performance or impacting user experience for genuine users. Leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning, behavioral biometrics, and a host of digital intelligence, Arkose Labs provides comprehensive and long-term protection against malicious automated traffic bots.