Today, it seems that almost every day there is another news story about the prevalence of bots and fake users on the internet.
The debate about bot volume contributed to a messy Twitter acquisition process, and companies of all sizes are falling victim to malicious activities that lead to poor decision-making and loss of customer trust.
But how are these bots and fake users able to continue infecting the internet, and how specifically do they impact businesses that operate online? This article will address those questions and provide some context to the issue of the Fake Web.
How is it taking over the internet?
When a massive data breach or cyber attack occurs, a company’s cybersecurity department can immediately recognize what’s happening and react to the attack accordingly. However, since the internet is becoming more robotic and less authentic, there is a lot of bot activity and malicious human activity that can go completely unnoticed day-to-day.
For example, click farms can be utilized to drain ad budgets, invalid users can fill out website forms and pollute marketing funnels, and data can be skewed by unintentionally including fake traffic within business intelligence systems. These things happen every day, and because bad actors are getting more advanced in their techniques, there are many organizations that don’t even know this is happening to them.
Businesses that are savvy and concerned with this issue might implement some form of click fraud or ad fraud solution to help mitigate these risks. But unfortunately, there is actually a higher percentage of bots and fake users that arrive on-site from organic and direct traffic sources than those coming from paid advertisements, so even the most advanced ad fraud software is not going to pick up on those threats. Additionally, IP blocking lists can sometimes be outdated, incomplete, or provide false positives. All of these limitations of traditional proactive bot blocking make it easier for bots and fake users to continue to harm the internet at-large while going mostly undetected.
What damage does this cause?
Not only does the Fake Web cause concern when it comes to data accuracy or brand trust, but there are also significant financial implications as well. Studies have shown that bots and fake users cost businesses about $42 billion each year due to lost revenue opportunities. This is because when marketing teams continue wasting valuable resources attracting fake users, they are not able to use those resources to better target legitimate paying customers.
Similarly, since sales teams can often waste time trying to nurture leads that don’t have the ability to convert, $115 billion is also lost each year due to wasted sales labor costs. And perhaps most concerning is the fact that many companies are utilizing inaccurate data infected by the Fake Web and suffering because of it.
What can businesses do about it?
Recognizing that one’s business could be actively getting harmed by the Fake Web can be an intimidating truth to come to terms with. Since bots and fake users are getting more advanced, and businesses are impacted in many more ways than simply losing ad budget, some organizations tend to put on blinders and ignore the problem. For some, it just seems like too much of an undertaking and they don’t always know where to start.
Fortunately, there is now a category of technology called Go-to-Market Security, that is designed to protect the entire GTM organization in a proactive way. Implementing this type of cybersecurity can help companies get ahead by actively running thousands of security challenges on each user to determine their level of validity, and can block or mitigate accordingly.
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