What are Malicious Bots? And How to Avoid Them | CHEQ

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The internet today is increasingly populated by bots and fake users. Some recent reports have shown that at least 27% of organic and direct traffic on the web is coming from some source other than legitimate humans. Other studies suggest that the Fake Web is an even bigger issue and that there are more bots than humans on the internet today. But what exactly constitutes a ‘bot’ and are all of them harmful? 

At their core, all bots are automation tools, and some bots are built for positive purposes such as automating business processes or indexing content to make things easier to find online. But there are also bots that can drain budgets, commit fraudulent activities, and steal the identities of innocent individuals. In this article, we will break down what exactly malicious bots are, how they impact digital businesses, and ultimately how to avoid them. 

What is the definition of a Malicious Bot? 

Malicious internet activity typically originates from one of two groups – malicious human users, or malicious bots. Malicious bots can be defined as automation tools or pieces of software that are built with the intent to harm one or more internet users or businesses. Bots typically operate automatically with limited human intervention, but humans are involved in the origination and creation of bots. 

What are some different types of Malicious Bots? 

Because malicious bots are continually created, it is nearly impossible to keep track of every individual threat. However, there are some categories that help group malicious bots into buckets based on their key characteristics. Three examples of these categories are as follows.

Spambots 

Spambots are used to send out mass quantities of unsolicited messages. This has historically been done through email, and more recently through social media posts, comments, and replies. Spambots may also include malicious links that can further harm unsuspecting users who engage with the bot unknowingly. 

Account Takeover Bots 

These types of bots are used to hack into one or more profiles or accounts that are rightfully owned by a valid user. Account takeover bots can be used to access private information like banking details, personal messages, and identification information. 

Malicious Scrapers 

Malicious scrapers are bots that scan a website for a specific piece of data and then use that data to harm a website or given user. They are closely associated with instances of event tickets, popular consumer goods, travel and tourism offers, and limited offers selling out before real customers even have a chance to purchase. 

How do Malicious Bots impact business? 

Customer information being stolen, or accounts being hacked are obvious threats to consumers and data security. But malicious bots impact businesses on an even deeper level. When fake traffic clicks on advertisements, enter a marketing funnel, engages with website content, and enters nurture streams – it pollutes the entire go-to-market operation. Additionally, since businesses today make nearly every decision based on data, their source of truth becomes skewed and unreliable. 

How can businesses avoid Malicious Bots? 

In order to avoid the pitfalls of malicious bots, companies must stay diligent. It is important to look out for unusual spikes in traffic, traffic originating from atypical sources, and strange user behavior on-site. This means prioritizing and studying site activities like never before. Unsurprisingly though, keeping watch of each site visitor and the actions they take can require a lot of bandwidth, and furthermore, some activities that might appear suspicious could actually be committed by regular users. 

For this reason, many go-to-market teams are adopting GTM Security. By installing cybersecurity software that speaks their language, marketers and analysts can regain control of their funnels, and continue to drive operational efficiency.

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