Darker Side of Malicious Bots – What Damage Can Malicious Bots Cause?
Recently a report published by Radware reveals that nearly 58% of the malicious bots traced in February 2020 by various IT security platforms mimic human behavior.
It is a sign of worry for digital media websites. The study further highlights that 28% of internet traffic is being produced by malicious bots. It includes activities like marking content to repost articles on sites that are poked with malware.
Since malicious bots are becoming able to mimic like humans, enterprises need to invest more in different forms of AI to detect activities on their sites that aren’t generated by a human. The Bad Bot Report of 2018 unfolds: in 2017, 42.2% of all the web traffic routed through web hosts and data centers made up of bots, which is 3.5% more than in 2016. As one pointed out in a comprehensive web hosting report by HostingData.co.uk, “the nature of bot traffic is getting worse as the good bots like the search engine spiders have turned to bad bots.”
Malicious bots are becoming more prevalent and sophisticated than before and are causing significant damage to the digital world. In this regard, this article examines how different kinds of bots can harm individuals and tech giants. Later how to curb this situation will also be discussed. So, let’s read on.
The Darker Side of Malicious Bots
Almost every business that has an online existence is attacked by malicious bots either by its APIs websites or mobile apps. These bots cause damages in two forms,i.e., one is a direct loss which means revenue lost and the other is the indirect loss that is reputation degradation through various activities like:
1. Massive Data Theft
Multiple bots can interact to conduct vast scale identity theft that is one of the fastest-growing cybercrimes in today’s age. By using bots, criminals impersonate themselves as the representatives of well-known brands and urge users to give up their info, such as financial information and other data stored in payment processor applications.
Many people believe that online data theft can occur when a hacker compromises a system and steals data. However, there is an abundant source of data theft, bots that never breach the systems from where they steal from. It includes scraper bots that visit websites and copy their content. Some verticals like data aggregators collect and sell both content and data. For such verticals, scrapers are a direct threat to their business model.
Other verticals are indirectly used. Like for instance, E-commerce sites are quite often scraped by bots that obtain their pricing data. Their counterparts use this data to overtake those prices and cause the victim to lose sales.
2. DDoS Attacks
The DDoS attacks are usually made by using the attackers’ personal or a rented botnet. At times the attack is caused by IoT devices. As per a report published in 2017, DDoS attack was at its peak and cost a firm above $2.5 million every attack. The cost of undermined advertisers overwhelmed domain registrars, and tarnished customer relationships are difficult to quantify but is no doubt damaging. Ransom DDoS attacks are also rising, with companies being extorted for money protection.
3. Credential Stuffing
Cyber-crooks can easily break into a site and compromise data without even breaching it. They typically use bots to stuff credentials into the login forms and hack users’ accounts. The credentials and information are sometimes generated through brute force where bots create a variation of letters and numbers to see which combinations are valid logins.
Another approach for bots is cycling through a list of emails and passwords that were stolen from other websites. Majority web users still use the same credential on multiple platforms. Doing this will make their accounts vulnerable by stuffing bots.
4. Advertising Fraud
If a website depends on advertising to generate revenue, it is incredibly vulnerable to click frauds.
Such fraud occurs when bots are sent to click on ads. The first target is the advertiser who spends money for fake clicks and does not get the ROI that was estimated from the ad budget. The effect on organizations occurs when ad networks find about the fraud and get reverse their payments.
If this fraud continues to happen on a site, advertising networks will blacklist that company. In extreme cases, this ad fraud eliminates an entire category of possible revenues from an enterprise’s website, and using the ad blocker is the best solution.
5. Credit Card Fraud
We all know that payment card numbers are valuable to a great extent that they can be sold on the dark web. If any website accepts and records card numbers, the organization can expect vulnerability scanning bots to visit it regularly. If a vulnerability is detected, hackers arrive soon and get their work done effectively. The prime purpose is to breach the site, know the card numbers, and sell them to make money.
Even if an organization does not keep the card data, still bots can compromise that site. When selling card numbers, those known to be valid are more valuable. Criminals validate those card numbers by sending bots to a specific location. The bots add objects to their shopping carts and then enter various card numbers to begin the paying process for the purchase. The numbers that get accepted are valid and are sold later. Secondly, bots will also use these numbers directly to make fraudulent purchases.
6. Inventory Denial Attacks
At times, specific products and services items are removed from the available inventory as soon as someone starts an online purchasing process. Like for example, when someone visits an airline site and begins to book a flight, the web application quickly removes a seat from the available space on the plane. The inventory denial attacks are the ones in which bots visit a site and pretend to be a regular buyer. They purchase things but never complete the transaction.
Generally, a website timeouts a transaction after ten minutes and makes the items again available. But for this entire period, the details are denied to the actual customers. They’ll also be open back for some specific time until the bot starts a new purchase that will be a small window after the standard timeout period has gone.
What Can Be Done In This Regard?
Malicious bots are difficult to detect. According to a report, in 2017, 74% of all malicious bots were Advanced Persistent Bots that cycle through random IP addresses, enter networks via unknown proxies, change their identities, and do a job of mimicking human behavior. Another difficulty is that bots have gained power through numbers. They’re hugely distributed through botnets, along with the exponential growth in the IoT connected devices has provided bot operators access to thousands of different IP addresses to launch their malicious attacks.
Lastly, the increasing growth in the use of mobile devices to access the web has not been lost on malicious bot operators. They have found that cellular gateways offer a practical and latest channel for malicious bots to attack multiple apps and sites simultaneously. Because of cellular gateways managing massive volumes of requests, most of which are legal, it is difficult to recognize and block the malicious ones.
However, there are specific preventive measures which everyone should take to avoid the dangers of malicious bots:
- Stay updated with the latest security patches as well as other security solutions.
- Integrate a web security scanner that enables you to have an end-to-end view of the attack surface and vulnerabilities.
- Conduct solid training and awareness programs.
- Block bots APIs security in your system.
- Avoid clicking on any links or giving out your personal information while you’re chatting on different social media platforms.
- Start utilizing the latest technologies like Artificial Intelligence, to detect malicious bots.
To sum up all, all we can say is that malicious bots have now become more rampant than before. They are causing severe damage to the business industry due to difficulty in detecting them. However, by following some preventive measures, you can surely protect yourselves and your organization from the effects of bots.