Data Manipulation & Content Theft
Contrary to popular belief, cybercrime is not limited to highly complex or wide-scale hacker attacks on IT infrastructure. Among the most common forms of cybercrime are much more systematic theft of digital content and fraudulent data manipulation and sabotage. The attackers usually target online retailers and shopping platforms.
Digital crooks copy elaborately designed product pages, price structures and even entire shop structures for unscrupulous competitors. Cybercriminals also use digital duplicates for additional phishing attacks.
Meanwhile, to sabotage companies, attackers use targeted bot requests to falsify the operators’ data analysis, provoking the wrong strategic decisions.
Technologically, the methods of fraud described are based on machine requests made by bots. Around 20 percent of average website traffic is accounted for by such requests. Against this background it is crucial for operators of online services to maintain full control over traffic at all times.
Cart abandonment is the name given to malicious manipulation in e-commerce aimed at causing an artificial shortage of inventory. Attackers use automated bots to order large quantities of a certain product, but do not complete the purchase process. As a consequence, the items reserved in digital shopping carts are temporarily no longer available to other customers. This slows things down and makes sales more difficult for the affected online retailer.
Limited product series or concert tickets from hot artists are often sold out on the internet in a matter of minutes. It is not unusual for the highly sought-after items to appear a short time later on other shopping platforms, being sold at exorbitant prices. This is often the result of hype-sales bots, automated programs that order large quantities of popular items in a matter of seconds. Normal customers are at a disadvantage here and turn away in annoyance from the affected online shop. The marketing effect for retailers is thus reversed.
Analysis data such as Google Analytics is among the most important indicators for companies to make sound marketing decisions. In what is known as “skewing,” attackers target precisely this data. By means of targeted bot requests for specific content, cybercriminals falsify the data analysis of companies, provoking the wrong strategic decisions. For affected companies, such attacks can cause serious and long-lasting harm.
Web scraping describes the automated extraction of websites and their content. In general, a distinction must be made between welcome web scraping, as done by search engines for indexing purposes, and unwelcome or malicious web scraping. In the latter, attackers employ the technology to systematically copy the content from one website and publish it on another. For companies, such an approach has considerable consequences that are detrimental to their business. This lowers visibility on the web, causing potential customers to wander off to the copied or bogus shop page.