In the dark underbelly of the internet, a disturbing phenomenon has taken root, leaving cybersecurity experts and netizens trembling in its wake. Bad bots, sinister automatons designed to wreak havoc on the digital realm, have seen an unprecedented rise, becoming a formidable force of malevolence. As the battle between good and evil intensifies, innocent users find themselves caught in the crossfire of this digital arms race.

With every passing day, the internet’s landscape becomes increasingly hostile as these malevolent bots proliferate at an alarming rate. These nefarious entities lurk within the shadows, penetrating unsuspecting networks, and launching devastating cyberattacks with ruthless efficiency. From bad bots disrupting online businesses to infiltrating social media platforms, these bots have evolved into a relentless and omnipresent threat that undermines the very foundations of our interconnected world.

One of the most concerning aspects of this surge is the sophistication of these virtual malefactors. Equipped with artificial intelligence algorithms, bad bots possess the ability to mimic human behaviour, rendering them almost indistinguishable from legitimate users.

This devious tactic allows them to bypass security measures, polluting our digital ecosystems with fraudulent activities, spam, and disinformation campaigns. From stealing sensitive information to manipulating public opinion, bad bots serve as silent, yet potent, instruments of chaos.

The consequences of the escalating bot epidemic are dire

The financial sector suffers crippling blows as bad bots exploit vulnerabilities, siphoning off funds and executing fraudulent transactions with calculated precision. E-commerce platforms witness an onslaught of counterfeit traffic, sabotaging analytics and undermining genuine customer engagement.

Even the democratic fabric of society is not spared, as these malicious entities infiltrate social media networks, disseminating propaganda, sowing discord, and manipulating public discourse.

The war against bad bots rages on

As the war against bad bots rages on, cybersecurity professionals are forced to confront an increasingly complex and cunning adversary. Traditional defence mechanisms are stretched to their limits, with reactive strategies proving ineffective against the speed and adaptability of these digital villains. Organisations are now compelled to adopt proactive measures, deploying advanced machine learning algorithms and behavioural analytics to identify and neutralize these threats before they strike.

The battle against bad bots, however, is not one that can be fought by cybersecurity professionals alone. It requires a collective effort from governments, technology companies, and internet users themselves. Legislators must enact robust regulations to hold those responsible for deploying bad bots accountable, while technology giants must prioritize security and invest in cutting-edge defences.

Automated business logic attacks have witnessed a surge in 2023, propelled by evasive bad bots that inflict chaos and facilitate online fraud. These malicious bots adeptly imitate human behaviour and exploit business logic, affording threat actors and fraudsters the ability to engage in a diverse range of nefarious activities.

Bad Bot Statistics – 2023

  1. Bad bots account for 30% of automated traffic.
  2. Automated attacks targeting APIs are on the rise.
  3. Evasive bad bots make up 66.6% of all bad bot traffic.

Bad bots become increasingly sophisticated

The year 2022 witnessed a staggering surge in advanced bad bots, with these malicious entities constituting a jaw-dropping 51.2% of all bad bot traffic. This unsettling statistic is a significant escalation from the comparatively modest sophistication level of 25.9% recorded in 2021.

Businesses across the globe are left deeply concerned as these advanced bad bots employ cutting-edge evasion techniques, expertly mimicking human behaviour to slip past detection systems.

They employ a shrewd repertoire of tactics, including cycling through random IP addresses, exploiting anonymous proxies, and effortlessly assuming new identities.

During 2022, approximately 51.2% of all malicious bot traffic was attributed to “advanced” bad bots. This represents a significant increase from the 25.9% observed in 2021. The growing sophistication of these malicious bots is alarming for businesses, as they employ cutting-edge evasion methods and closely imitate human actions to avoid being detected.

These advanced bad bots employ tactics such as cycling through random IP addresses, utilizing anonymous proxies, and frequently changing their identities, making it harder to identify and block their activities.

Bad bots disguise behaviour

2022 also saw the prevalence of bad bots using Mobile Safari as their preferred browser increased to one in five, compared to 16.1% in 2021. This rise can be attributed to updated browsers incorporating privacy settings that obscure the malicious behaviour of bad bots. Consequently, organisations face greater challenges in detecting and mitigating automated traffic due to these enhanced privacy measures.

The financial and business consequences

Research reports have shed light on the financial and business ramifications stemming from automated bot attacks, providing valuable ammunition for security professionals to demonstrate the financial impact of cybercrime.

Armed with this data, they can engage in meaningful discussions with business leaders regarding the return on investment (ROI) of implementing dedicated anti-bot solutions. Such insights enable security teams to elevate crucial conversations about the economic effects of bot attacks, directly influencing an organisation’s financial resilience.

According to the Aite-Novarica Group, bots account for up to 40% of global online traffic and stand as a primary instigator of cyberattacks. Furthermore, research endorsed by the Global Privacy Assembly, an association comprising over 130 data protection and privacy regulators and enforcers, highlights that a staggering 193 billion credential-stuffing attacks were driven by bots worldwide in 2020.

This translates to over 16 billion monthly attacks or more than 500 million attacks daily. The consequences of these assaults are severe, with Juniper Research projecting global online fraud losses to surpass $48 billion annually by 2023.

10 Different Types Of Known Bad Bots

It’s crucial for businesses to understand the different types of bad bots to effectively combat their negative impact.

Types of Bad Bots:

  1. Web Scraping Bots: These bots crawl websites and extract data without permission. They can be used for competitive intelligence, content theft, or harvesting email addresses.
  2. Spam Bots: These bots flood websites, forums, and comment sections with spammy content, such as unsolicited advertisements, phishing links, or malicious downloads.
  3. Credential Stuffing Bots: These bots automate login attempts using stolen credentials obtained from data breaches, attempting to gain unauthorized access to user accounts on various websites.
  4. Botnets: Botnets are networks of infected computers controlled by a central command and control (C&C) server. They can be used for various malicious purposes, including distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, sending spam emails, or spreading malware.
  5. Impersonator Bots: These bots mimic human behaviour to evade detection. They often cycle through IP addresses, use anonymous proxies, and employ tactics like mouse movements and keystrokes to appear as legitimate users.
  6. Click Fraud Bots: These bots simulate user clicks on online ads to generate fraudulent ad impressions or clicks, leading to financial losses for advertisers.
  7. Scrapper Bots: These bots scrape content from websites for purposes such as content theft, plagiarism, or aggregating data without permission.
  8. Malware Distribution Bots: These bots spread malware by distributing malicious links, infected files, or phishing emails, targeting unsuspecting users and compromising their systems.
  9. Carding Bots: These bots automate the process of testing stolen credit card details on e-commerce websites to identify valid cards for fraudulent transactions.
  10. Social Media Bots: These bots operate on social media platforms, performing activities such as fake account creation, spreading fake news, manipulating trends, or inflating follower counts.

Bots as a service & cyber criminals

In the past, cybercriminals were required to possess sufficient skills to develop and execute cyberattacks independently. However, the landscape has evolved significantly. The emergence of “bots as a service” has provided an alternative approach, enabling cybercriminals to outsource the creation of bots.

This newfound convenience allows them to dedicate their time and resources to outsmarting detection techniques, discovering new vulnerabilities to exploit, and compromising sensitive data. In essence, the ability to launch impactful bot attacks is now more reliant on financial means rather than technical expertise.

Undoubtedly, bots as a service have emerged as a successful business model, particularly benefiting unskilled cybercriminals seeking to engage in malicious activities. By subscribing to bots as a service, hackers gain access to a comprehensive range of malicious bots, often offered through different pricing tiers and service levels.

Some providers of bots as a service go the extra mile by setting up botnets, providing detailed guides, offering round-the-clock support, and even guaranteeing a specific success rate. It has become a convenient one-stop-shop for cybercriminals looking to acquire the necessary tools for their malevolent endeavours.

The sophistication of bots-as-a-service solutions has reached such a level that they can bypass most conventional bot protection measures. Adding to the concern, developers of bots-as-a-service platforms often structure their pricing models in a way that users only pay for successful requests, indicated by a 200 HTTP response code.

The rapid rise of bad bots is becoming a grave concern for business owners as these malicious automated tools wreak havoc across digital platforms. Business owners are grappling with the escalating sophistication of bots-as-a-service solutions, making it increasingly challenging to detect and mitigate these threats.