Traffic at record level Bots dominate the Internet
Computer programs that automatically perform repetitive tasks and do not require human interaction are called bots. In 2020, almost half of Internet traffic was generated not by humans, but by bots. This is the result of an Imperva study.
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Good or evil? A bot can be a helper as well as an attacker.
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They are digital tools and can be used for both good and bad purposes. We are talking about bots. They can take on repetitive tasks and thereby support companies, at the same time they also pose a threat to security. According to a study by Imperva, the traffic generated by bad bots reached a record level of 26 percent in 2020. This is the highest figure since the first survey of the “Bad Bot Report” in 2014.
The annual analysis covers all industries worldwide. According to Impreva, while Internet traffic of people decreased by six percent, in 2020, a good two-fifths of Internet traffic was generated by bots. The share of good bot traffic amounted to around 15 percent, which is two percent more than in the previous year. However, good bots can also be harmful because they distort web analytics, slow web performance, and make it difficult for normal users to access the information or services they need.
Types of bot attacks
The largest share of bad bot traffic was caused by so-called advanced persistent bots (57%). This type of bots is particularly persistent, difficult to detect and imitates human behavior. They are mostly responsible for attacks on website, mobile apps and APIs. This poses major challenges for companies that want to reduce their downtime, reduce bandwidth consumption, or improve the user experience. These bots cause great damage through price and content scraping, account creation and acquisition, fraud, denial-of-service, and denial-of-inventory.
In addition, scalper bots were increasingly used last year to buy limited goods from the market. Large stocks of face masks, disinfectants, cleaning agents and exercise bikes were bought by bots. But Scalper bots and retail also plagued the gaming market. According to the study, there was a 788 percent increase in bot traffic between September and October 2020.
Industries are targeted
Telecommunications and Internet service providers accounted for almost 46 percent of all bot traffic. Most bots could be attributed to account takeovers or price queries. However, the first place in highly developed bot traffic came from the travel industry with 60 percent.
In the past year, the websites of authorities were increasingly attacked with the aim of account takeovers, data scraping of commercial register entries and voter registrations. In addition, the report shows a 372 percent increase in bad bot traffic on healthcare websites from September 2020 to February 2021. As vaccines became available to more and more age groups in the United States, bot activity increased at a rate of 25,000 requests per hour.
Over the past eight years, Bad Bots ‘ attack characteristics have become increasingly advanced and nuanced, writes Edward Roberts, Director of Strategy, Application Security at Imperva: “Last year, during the pandemic, Bad bots were able to develop even further by targeting new markets. The effects are now often noticeable for the normal consumer. The attacks on the gaming industry by the Grinch bots at the end of 2020 are an example of what happens when bots can act uncontrollably and buy up inventory.“
Roberts advises that companies and security experts have a focus on malicious bots, as he believes the problem will continue to grow. Companies should take proactive measures to protect their websites, applications and APIs from these threats as bots become increasingly involved in fraudulent activities that can lead to reputational and financial damage.