Bots can perform various types of malicious attacks, and these attacks can affect your business in three different areas:
1. Website performance
Bots will eat your site’s resources and can slow down your site’s speed for legitimate users. In most cases, it won’t be a major issue, but in severe cases, it can severely ruin your site’s performance so your users can’t access your service.
According to Google, people will bounce from a website that loads in more than three seconds, so a slow website can mean losing valuable leads or customers.
2. Financial losses
There are various ways bots can cause financial losses both directly and indirectly. If bots successfully perform credential cracking and steal your customer’s sensitive data, for example, you risk losing this customer’s trust (that will easily spread via social media), and you’ll lose potential revenue.
Bots can also steal sensitive information on your website and leak it to your competitors, like your confidential design blueprint or the price of a product that hasn’t been supposed to be published. This can cause you to lose a competitive advantage and will damage your financial performance in the long run.
According to a recent study, one-third of customers will stop doing business with a company that has experienced a data breach, and 70% claimed that it will be very difficult to trust this company in the future.
So, a data breach caused by malicious bots can cause long-term and even permanent damage to your reputation. This can be extremely difficult to recover from, and this is why preventing bot attacks from happening is much more preferred than being sorry later.
To summarize, bots can cause both financial and reputational damages. A serious data breach where customers’ data is compromised, for example, may cause long-term or even permanent damages to your reputation, and your customers can simply move to your competitors.
Top Recommendations To Protect Your Website From Bad Bots
Now that we’ve discussed the potential (negative) impacts of the bad bot attacks, and also the challenges in managing these attacks, here are the top recommendations on how you can protect your website:
1. Monitor Your Traffic For Excessive Bot Presence
As discussed, close to 40% of all internet traffic comes from bot activities, and so we can expect there are bot activities on your site. The problem is when you have too many bot activities on your site, and you can monitor your traffic for the following symptoms:
- Increased page views: a sudden and unexplained spike in pageviews is a very common symptom of bot activities.
- Decreased dwell time: typically bots will only perform their tasks (i.e. attempt a login) and will instantly leave the page after they’ve performed this task. So, when there’s a significant decrease in average dwell time/session duration, it’s a common red flag
- Increased/decreased bounce rate: bounce rate is the percentage of users who leave the page before clicking on anything and/or visiting other pages. Again, bots typically will leave the page after performing their tasks, resulting in a spiking bounce rate. Similarly, a sharp decline in bounce rate can also be a sign of bots who linger on your site (for example to scan for vulnerabilities).
- Website performance: a significant slow down on your page speed can be a sign of a large number of bots making a massive number of requests on your server
If you find any of those symptoms, then there’s a good sign of excessive bot activities on your site. However, this won’t help you in differentiating between good bots and bad bots, and for that, you’ll need the next tip.
2. Installing a Proper Bot Management Solution
Nowadays there are various bot management solutions available in the market with various price tags offering different sets of features.
The thing is, with how today’s bots are getting more sophisticated than ever before, we can no longer rely on traditional bot detection means like CAPTCHA and fingerprinting-based solutions.
There are three different methods the bot management software can use in detecting bots:
- Fingerprinting-based (static) approach: the bot management solution analyzes the ‘signatures’ of the traffic like OS version, IP address, browser types/versions, and so on while comparing them to known fingerprints of malicious bots.
- Challenge-based approach: the bot management solution presents a test that is designed to be easy for legitimate human users but very difficult/impossible to solve by bots. CAPTCHA is a very common form of this bot management approach.
- Behavioral-based (dynamic) approach: In this type of approach the bot management solution analyzes the client’s behaviors in real-time and compares them with a known baseline, for example analyzing mouse movements against real user’s mouse movements.
Due to the sophistication of today’s shopping bots, a bot management solution that is capable of behavioral-based detection is recommended. We’d recommend DataDome, an affordable bot detection solution that uses AI-based behavioral detection that can detect the most sophisticated bot activities in real-time and autopilot.
3. Implementing Bot Management Best Practices
There are other cybersecurity best practices you can implement to further protect your website from bad bots, including:
- Installing WAF: A cloud-based web application firewall (WAF) can help stop some bad bots according to their signatures and origins. They won’t be very effective in stopping sophisticated bots, they can be effective in protecting your website from less persistent attackers.
- Robots.txt: Robots.txt is a simple text document containing a list of rules that should be followed by bots accessing your site’s resources. Malicious bots won’t follow these rules, but robots.txt is still useful in managing good bots as well as less sophisticated bad bots.
- Authentication/access control: Require users to use strong and unique passwords, and implement CAPTCHA and/or multi-factor authentication (MFA) in risky areas on your website, for example in places where sensitive transactions happen.
Due to the sophistication of malicious bots these days, above anything else an advanced bot management solution is necessary to properly protect your website from bad bots and bot attacks.
We’d recommend DataDome, an advanced bot management solution that utilizes proprietary AI and machine-learning technologies to differentiate good bots from bad bots in real-time and autopilot, so it won’t require any human intervention while continuously protecting your website.