Safeguard your website assets from the prying eyes of bad bots that flood the internet

The traffic that reaches your website does not originate from humans alone even though you would prefer it to be human only. The quality of traffic reaching sites matter most to website owners because the internet traffic if flooded with traffic generated by bots alongside organic human-generated traffic. Since the human traffic contributes real value to websites, the bot-generated traffic often becomes a nuisance that even threaten the security of websites as it can pull down sites altogether. When you look across the internet, you would perhaps find bots all around you.

Bots are programs created for carrying out automated tasks, and it forms a big chunk of website traffic. Thus, it is imperative that bots are essential for websites, but unfortunately, all bots do not do the hard-lifting tasks, as you will come across bots that can wreak havoc to websites and render it useless. These are bad bots that you should be alert about and take measures to block bad bot traffic. The good bots are the ones that help to comprehend how to rank Google search results and assist in refreshing your Facebook feed while the bad bots behave like henchmen ready to carry out DDoS attacks that can turn quite devastating.

The bots population

The security firm Imperva had started tracking bots traffic on the internet since 2012, and in its 2016 report, it showed that for the first time since it started tracking the internet traffic, human traffic was higher than bot traffic. However, the report published in 2017 shows a reversal in the trend as bots, both good and bad constitute 52 percent of web traffic. There is a reason to worry because the numbers are quite significant considering that the survey covered 100,000 domains and analyzed more than 17 million website visits. The most alarming revelation is that the bad bots outnumber the good bots that contribute to only 23 percent traffic while the remaining 29 percent traffic originates from bad bots.   

The evil power of bad bots

Traffic generated from bad bots can cause immense harm to websites as was experienced by internet users across the US on one fateful Friday in October 2016.  Suddenly, several websites including some leading ones like Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit, The New York Times, Verizon, PayPal, Spotify, Tumblr, Etsy, the PlayStation Network, Comcast, and GitHub experienced technical problems and outages almost simultaneously. What had gone wrong left everyone wondering. Later, experts discovered that the DNS or Domain Name System architecture was under attack by some cyber bots that prevented the company that provides DNS access to other companies from providing the service and it was termed DDoS or distributed denial of service. The attack inundates websites with so much junk traffic that the affected websites are unable to provide service to legitimate visitors.

The extent of attacks

The report captures the persisting trend of attacks by bad bots, and this is the most concerning aspect.  The study carried over a period of 90 days recorded some startling facts. During the period of study, 94 percent of the 100,000 domains experienced at least one attack. An interesting fact is that bad bots frequent websites that are less popular with humans. Even if your site does not attract single human traffic, it remains attractive to bots that tend to replicate human behaviour.

Mirroring human behaviour

The fascinating aspect of bots is its ability to emulate human behaviour online. Bots behave as if it was human and this makes the task of identifying bots quite difficult. The most active good bot is the feed fetcher bot that is responsible for refreshing any user’s Facebook feed on the mobile app of the website. The bot is responsible for driving 4.4 percent traffic as it comes as a boon for the site that gains more exposure.  Website monitoring bots, commercial data extracting bots (spiders) and search engine bots are the other good bots that you would encounter online.

Other types of bots that you would come across are the Twitter bots and Spambots that show up in the comments section. These are not as pleasing as the earlier ones, but neither does it pose any threat to the security of the website. Although these bots may annoy you still you should be able to bear the inconvenience of clogged timelines on Twitter that it causes.  The Twitter bots can do everything from utter nonsense to social activism, political campaigning, and marketing. Although you could spot the bots easily, the data grabbing bots are difficult to identify, as it remains invisible. However, the impersonator bots are the ones that could become deadly, and you need to protect your website from it by blocking bad bot traffic. To know more you can take help from Houston SEO.

A tool for hackers

The impersonator bots are tools that hackers use frequently and if you have heard the names Nitrol, Cyclone and Sentry MBA then you are already aware of the dangers that these bots pose for websites. Hackers love impersonator bots that can fake registrations and can even tweet, solve captchas and also mimic the search ranking bots that Google uses.  Some bad bots specialize in DDoS, and some others keep on scanning websites for vulnerabilities that enable to breach security.  The unauthorized data scrapers, scavengers, and spambots come under this category. The massive internet disruption of October 2016 stated earlier in this article was the result of Mirai malware.    

Considering that impersonator bots comprise 24 percent web traffic while the others together make up for another 5 percent, it is clear that you must keep a close watch on the internet and take measures in protecting your website from the harmful exposure to bad bots.  It is likely that the bots are going to become stronger in days to come as a lot of business capital is flowing towards it.  Several startups that want to set up their business with bots have already raised funds, and it is just a matter of time before we witness the emergence of the Bots Age.  

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