Bots are small automated programs that independently carry out specific tasks. They perform recurring operations in most cases. Bots can be extremely useful. The Google crawler is one example of such a bot. It indexes web pages to ensure that they are included in Google search results. But bots are also used by cyber criminals to carry out their attacks. Bots thus represent a security risk for website operators. This is especially true when many thousands of bots join together into a botnet and carry out strategic attacks on websites.
A bot manager is software that manages which bots are allowed to access a website. The tool can tell the difference between human traffic and bot traffic and block unwanted access. It is not advisable to block all bot traffic, because useful bots, such as the Google crawler, will also no longer be able to access the page. Instead, a properly set up system of bot management identifies trustworthy bots by determining their reputations, analyzing the source IP addresses, and monitoring their behavior. Trusted bots are added to a whitelist so that they are still able to access the website, while dubious and malicious bots are denied access.
Bot management is based on the identification and subsequent containment of bots. A bot manager can do more than just block bots. It can also direct them to special content. It’s possible to use bot management to provide valuable information to the Google crawler that will positively affect the website’s ranking on Google. In addition, bot management can be used to optimize the delivery of website content to human users. The following are some of the solutions bot managers use to identify bots:
Limiting requests from a single IP address
If too many requests from a single IP address threaten to overload the server, this is an indication that the traffic is being generated by bots.
“CAPTCHA” is the acronym for “completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart”. These familiar mosaics and puzzles are used to determine whether a human or a computer is sending a request.
By analyzing the behavior of a user, modern bot managers can also tell human users apart from bots.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI)
This is an area that is still in its infancy, but more and more bot management systems are relying on machine learning to better distinguish bots from human users.
A bot manager can do more than just block bots. It can also direct them to special content. It’s possible to use bot management to provide valuable information to the Google crawler that will positively effect the website’s ranking on Google. In addition, bot management can be used to optimize the delivery of website content to human users.
A bot management system provides particular protection against the following bot-based cyberattacks:
Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDoS)
In a DDoS attack, hackers use a botnet to overload the server by flooding it with a huge number of requests. DDoS attacks can be directed against websites and other online services.
With web scraping, which is also known as screen scraping, bots read the content of a web page and then reproduce it on another page. This can have a range of negative consequences for the operator of the original site. In the worst case, cyber criminals use an exact copy of the original website to steal sensitive data from the source site’s customers via phishing.
Ad click fraud
Botnets are also used to engage in click fraud, which occurs when hackers generate revenue from fraudulent clicks on ads.
Bots use forums and internet portals to test stolen user/password combinations on a large scale to find valid accounts to exploit online.
Bots are used to obtain product prices or entire pricing structures in order to selectively take advantage of and harm competitors.
Bots exploit contact forms to bombard companies with their messages. This phishing method is often used as a jumping off point for more advanced attacks.
Bots can beat out real customers and purchase highly coveted products. These products, which for the most part are limited special editions, are then resold at exorbitant prices to produce a high profit. The result is disappointed customers.
Bots fill up shopping carts without completing the checkout process. As a result, the products that are reserved there are temporarily no longer available for regular customers, thereby harming the shop operator’s business.
Credit card fraud
Cyber criminals use bots on online portals to verify stolen credit card information. They use this technique to find valid cards within a matter of seconds for committing other crimes.
Account creation & takeover
Cybercriminals use automatically generated fake profiles to send out spam and malware. Huge amounts of fake user account information can also be used to perpetrate money laundering and SEO manipulation.
The targeted manipulation of analytics and user data is known as skewing. Attackers do this to prompt victim companies to make the wrong strategic decisions.