“Bad” bots, which masquerade as humans and attack online businesses, now comprise 26% of total internet traffic. They evade conventional security technologies, threatening websites, mobile applications and even APIs. Often, these highly sophisticated and automated threats set their sights on web applications, using an array of tactics to pillage personal data, tie down online inventory and degrade application/website performance.
These attacks often go undetected by conventional mitigation strategies because bots have evolved from basic scripts to large-scale distributed bots with humanlike interaction capabilities to evade discovery. Staying ahead of this threat requires two things: a firm understanding of these malevolent robots and more sophisticated, advanced security capabilities to actively detect and mitigate them.
To address the former, the Open Web Application Project (OWASP) seeks to remedy these threats by maintaining a list of automated attacks that target web applications.1 It serves as a starting point for security professionals seeking to ensure protection of web applications from the most virulent threats currently available to cybercriminals.
Bot management solutions address the latter and now serve as a cornerstone of any application security strategy. The escalating intensity of bot traffic and the increasing severity of its overall impact mean that dedicated bot management solutions are crucial to ensuring business continuity and success.
The nature of website attacks on the internet has changed dramatically over the recent years. Today when competitors and hackers think to bring down a business, the best and most effective way is to launch an automated attack. Automated attacks on websites and APIs are driven by online bots that can destroy your business. Automated threats have become so severe that OWASP, the worldwide not-for-profit organization focused on improving the security of software published the first Automated Threat Handbook in late 2015. This was done specifically to help organizations better understand and respond to the notable worldwide increase of automated threats from bots.
We have listed the most severe threats that automated traffic on the web poses to online businesses.
1. Account Takeover
Account Takeover fraud is a form of identity theft in which the fraudster or hacker gets access to a victim’s account, (either bank or credit card accounts) through a malware, phishing or data breach, and makes unauthorized transactions. Brute force attacks and credential stuffing are the two most common techniques used by fraudsters for account takeover.
Impact of Account Takeover on your Business
- Unauthorized Account Access – Fraudsters employ bots to programmatically target the user accounts, they use stolen credentials to gain access to the account and make unauthorized transactions.
- Financial Losses – The stolen cards are used to make fraudulent purchases and unauthorized transfer of virtual currencies such as reward points, wallet money, air miles, gift cards, etc.
- Loss of Brand Reputation – Fraudulent attempts on user accounts, on an online portal, will damage customer loyalty efforts. Account takeovers weaken the customer confidence in your services and may hurt your business revenue.
Account Takeover Prevention
Most accurate bot mitigation platform that provides real-time protection for your website and the users against account takeover and other automated threats. Our bot detection engine uses deep user behavior analysis, device fingerprinting, centralized intelligence and machine learning algorithms to spot even the most advanced account takeover attempts and other online frauds.
2. Web & Price Scraping
Web scraping is a process of extracting website content, pricing data and other useful data from websites and publishing it elsewhere. Competitors employ scraper bots to continuously crawl your web pages for information about your pricing and content, to undercut your dynamic pricing and duplicating your unique content.
Impact of Web & Price Scraping on your Business
- Losing Unique Content – Fresh and unique content is always considered to be an asset to the websites. When your content is scraped and published in a matter of seconds, your genuine website traffic will be badly affected.
- Loss of SEO Ranking – When your content is duplicated on some low domain authority sites, it significantly affects your SEO ranking. Scraper bots can even outrank your website and destroy your SEO strategies.
- Undercutting your Pricing – Scraper bots continuously crawl your web pages for pricing data, which define your business strategies in the marketplace. Bad bots can undercut your dynamic pricing and extract product catalogue information off your site.
- Skewed Analytics – Having more bad bot traffic on your website will skew your website analytics. If they are not detected properly then they may seem to be coming from the genuine sources. This way, your analytics get skewed and based on which wrong marketing strategies are made, also results in low conversion rates and business revenue.
- Bad User Experience – Bad bots crawl continuously on your website and may overload your server and network bandwidth with multiple page requests in a short period of time. This significantly increases the server load time and resulting in bad user experience.
Web & Price Scraping Prevention
Prevent web and price scraping bots from extracting your unique content and pricing data with InfiSecure’s bot protection solution. InfiSecure detects scraper bots in real-time and blocks them before they could cause harm to your content and pricing data.
3. Form Spam
Form spam is caused by malicious bots by posting unsolicited messages or unwanted information on your website forms. They may post some malicious links that can steal the user’s private data even if accidentally clicked. Form spam can damage your website’s user experience and brand reputation.
Impact of Form spam on your Business
- Fake Account Creation – Businesses use forms to collect user information, (email & phone number) but spam bots can generate fake accounts and fill those forms. Your sales team follow up these fake leads and mark them as dead leads, translating to poor conversion rates.
- Comment Spam – Malicious bots may spam your comment feed by hijacking the thread on blog post and forums. These bots post malicious links that direct to phishing websites when clicked, this may frustrate your genuine customers.
- Sever Overload and Infrastructure Cost – Bad bot traffic can slow down your website speed and increase bandwidth costs. When millions of bots spam your website with excess requests, the website consumes more time to load. Slow loading time may frustrate genuine users and they may end up in visiting your competitor’s site.
- Loss of Brand Value – Form spam causes a negative impact on your user experience and brand reputation, as your users may choose to go to your competitor’s website due to slower loading time.
4. Carding Fraud
Carding fraud occurs when hackers or bad actors run thousands of small purchases with stolen credit card numbers and resell them at a much higher price. This will result in poor merchant history, chargeback penalties and even worse.
Impact of Carding on your Business
- Loss of Brand Reputation – Accepting stolen credit cards leads to penalties and chargebacks. Excessive penalties may result in termination of merchant’s account. Online businesses struggle to prevent carding attacks because if such attacks go unnoticed can cause harm to its security measures and brand reputation.
- Ineffective Loyalty Points – Loyalty points are the major targets for fraudsters, as they can be easily converted to cash or used to book tickets or purchase goods. Loyalty points are being attacked by bots performing brute force attacks.
5. OWASP Top Automated Threats
Automated threat on a website opens up many industries such as airlines, ecommerce, travel sites to bot abuse. If these threats are not detected and blocked properly, then businesses may put a dent in the bottom line. Automated threats are those undertaken by malicious bots.
OWASP (The Open Web Application Security Project) is a worldwide not-for-profit organization focused on improving the security of software. OWASP released Automated Threat Handbook that provides actionable information and resources to help defend against automated threats to web applications. This handbook is a standard reference guide that is grouped into four major categories namely Account credentials, payment cardholder data, vulnerability identification and other automated threats.
Account Credentials is targeted to steal confidential user data and is subcategorized into account aggregation, account creation, credential cracking and credential stuffing. Payment Cardholder data is an automated threat that is targeted to abuse payment methods, steals user credit card data to make unauthorized purchases. It is subcategorized into carding, card cracking, and cashing out threats. Vulnerability Identification scans for loopholes in the web application through different ways like foot printing, vulnerability scanning and fingerprinting. And then there are other Automated Threats that include website threats like ad fraud, CAPTCHA Bypass, Daniel of Service, expediting, scalping, scraping, skewing, sniping, spamming, Token cracking and Inventory exhaustion threats.
Impact of OWASP Automated Threats on your Business
- Unauthorized Account Access and Online Fraud – Fraudsters use stolen credentials to make unauthorized transactions, transfer rewards and wallet money. They may also reuse the same credentials on multiple sites and applications. This leads to financial losses to online businesses.
- Excessive Penalties and Loss of Brand Reputation – Carding and payment fraud may impose excessive penalties for accepting the stolen credit cards. Your customers may lose confidence in your brand and may choose your competitor’s site for future transactions.
- Bad Customer Experience – Unwanted bot traffic can ultimately slow down your website and increase bandwidth costs. Slower loading pages result in poor customer experience and loss in business revenue.
Malicious bots, which operate under the guise of humans and attack online businesses, compromise 26% of total internet traffic – and traditional security tactics are unable to identify these bots until it’s too late.
Staying ahead of these threats requires 2 things:
- A firm understanding of how bots behave
- Sophisticated security capability to detect & mitigate them
In this white paper, explore the 6 most dangerous bot threats and best practices for mitigating them before they cause too much damage.