What is Bot Traffic?
Bot Traffic simply refers to traffic from non-human sources towards a site, an API or an application.
Not all Bot Traffic is bad or abusive, some are beneficial while others are clearly used to penalize.
One study estimated that 40% of all Internet traffic is carried out by Bots, most of which are malicious.
The good and bad Bot Traffic
Bot Traffic can be used to respond to requests that may vary widely. Thus, the objectives of Bot Traffic are not necessarily to cause harm.
Among the benevolent Bots, we find those which are considered essential to the proper functioning of search engines and sites.
We can cite, for example, Google Bot, which allows the Google search engine to crawl a site in order to classify it in its natural referencing (SEO).
There are also digital assistant bots like that of Alexa or Siri, which are used to help the clients of its applications.
Malicious bots represent a large portion of Internet Bot Traffic today.
From simple click fraud, Web Scraping or DDOS attacks, the use of bots to harm and attack a site, a web application or an API has become extremely common today. This is why it is essential to protect yourself effectively!
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The damage caused by Bot Traffic
The damage generated by Bot Traffic can be more or less significant. Here are some malicious acts that Bot Traffic can commit en masse.
In light damage, bots can disrupt Analytics data. A wave of bots can distort the number of conversions, visitors or even duration.
This leads to problems testing new features or optimizing conversion rate.
More serious, Bot Traffic can create DDOS attacks. It is in fact a massive sending of bots with the aim of paralyzing a site or web application.
Concretely, this overloads the visiting capacities of the server on which the site is hosted, and this has the consequence of slowing it down, or even making it completely unavailable for everyone.
By the time it takes to put the site back online, companies can suffer a loss of visibility but also a financial loss due to lack of conversions.
Web Scraping consists of the automatic recovery of content for use elsewhere.
Concretely, bots retrieve the requested information by crawling your site.
They can thus recover your prices, if you are a merchant site, this allows competitors to place themselves below your price.
But they can also retrieve the content of your site to use elsewhere and thus steal your information, which can result in a drop in SEO.
Click fraud is the use of Bot Traffic to automatically click on ads on your site.
This has two major consequences:
1. An increase in your ad costs
2. Possible banning of your site by the advertising network for fraudulent clicks
If your inventory is limited, bad actors can use bots to reserve large quantities of goods in their shopping cart.
They are not going to buy, they aim to disrupt stocks directly by reserving them without making a purchase.
The main side effect is your customer's frustration at seeing that the product they are looking for is no longer in stock and will go to a competitor.
Brute Force Attack
Brute Force attack is one of the worst things that using Bot Traffic can be done.
A Brute Force attack consists of an attempt to find information by trying a large number of possible combinations.
So, one possible use is testing for missing details of stolen bank cards.
Another use is to find a user's password to steal their personal information by trying multiple combinations.
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How to detect Bot Traffic on your site?
Bot detection can be done manually, using analytics tools (Google Analytics for example) or by using software for automatic Bot prevention and detection such as Cloudfilt.
Bot Traffic can be characterized by several factors including:
Session duration issues
Very very short visiting sessions or, conversely, abnormally long. Very low session durations often mean bots are clicking and moving quickly through your site.
The number of sessions can be combined with the bounce rate, if the latter is high, it could mean that they are bots.
Impromptu visitor peaks
If you have peaks in visitors, especially at odd times like 4 a.m., then this is a synonym for visits from bots, possibly good ones, Google for example, or malicious ones.
Also look at the origin of the visitors, if they come from a foreign country, this is an indicator to take into consideration.
Quite simply if you offer forms, bots can automatically fill in and send mass contact requests.
Prevent Bot Traffic
To protect yourself from malicious Bot Traffic, several tools and strategies can be implemented, including:
⋅ The ability to filter traffic from Google Analytics. These measures may simply prevent certain bots from harming analytics.
⋅ Use site protection by CAPTCHA. Although imperfect and quite ineffective on advanced and intelligent bots, this method makes it possible to limit and block the most basic bots.
⋅ Check your logs and connections frequently. Indeed, repeated connections at the same time and/or close connections may indicate the use of Bot Traffic.
⋅ Block “Internet users” using old versions of search engines. Bots often use outdated versions of search engines to attack. By preventing this type of Traffic, attacks can be limited.
⋅ Use a powerful and automatic Bot Traffic detection and blocking solution.
Using powerful software that blocks malicious bots, as Cloudfilt does, makes it possible to automatically detect the pattern of malicious bots and ban them while being careful not to confuse the behavior of a robot and of a human.
Bot traffic is non-human traffic to a website/webapp or API. While some bot traffic is beneficial(GoogleBot, Bingbot, SemrushBot...), abusive and bad bot traffic can be very dangerous.
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