Data from our “2015 Bot Traffic Report” reveals that bots account for nearly half of all internet traffic (49 percent). That’s an amazing statistic when you consider the fact that there are more than 3 billion internet users in the world, per The Underground Bot Economy.
A web bot is a program that runs simple, automated and repetitive tasks over the internet. This makes bots a great timesaving tool for everyone, including web operators, security ops, website administrators, and companies. Some of the bots best known to the general public power search engines like Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo.
On the flip side, cybercriminals manipulate bots for their own gains. According to our data, 90 percent of all security events are caused by bots. And 66 percent of all bot activity is malicious.
For proof, take a look at our infographic below titled “The Underground Bot Economy”. It collates all the information good and bad you need to know about the global economic impact of web bots.
CSI: Crime Scene Internet
And as we mentioned earlier, our report confirms that a large percentage of bot traffic is malicious in intent. Take a look at the breakdowns below.
Human vs. Bot Traffic
- 2015: 51% human, 29% bad bot, 20% good bot
- 2014: 44% human, 29% bad bot, 27% good bot
- 2013: 39% human, 30% bad bot, 31% good bot
- 2012: 49% human, 31% bad bot, 20% good bot
Good bots are primarily information gatherers. They do their job effectively, but they generally only gather enough data to complete their assigned tasks.
Meanwhile, bad bots remain a constant threat because their prime directive is to prey on big and successful targets. In other words, as a website becomes more popular, so does the incentive to attack it.
Bots & Robbers
Bots aren’t inherently evil, however. Neutral in origin, they are simply scripts written to perform repetitive but essential tasks. But your personal and professional business activities can easily be sabotaged depending on who writes, operates and deploys these bots,
The Good Guys
- The Crawler – Search engines and online services use spider bots to discover and index your website content, making it easier for internet users to find you.
- The Trader – E-commerce sites use trading bots to search online auctions for the best deals, then automatically buy or sell based on pricing criteria.
- The Nurse – Speed test and other monitoring bots check your website’s health and accessibility, keeping your website healthy and responsive.
- The Intern – Media bots take on various forms from fetching content to updating weather conditions to censoring language in comments and chat rooms.
Vulnerability scanners can help strengthen your security by auditing your websites and servers for gaps or anomalies. But like the bots themselves, these scanners are merely tools to be employed by individuals with their own personal agendas.
The Bad Guys
- The Impersonator – Disguised mostly as regular visitors, impersonator bots bypass your security to spy on, steal from or bring down your website.
- The Hacker – These bots may steal valuable data (e.g. credit card or customer information) from your site, infect it with malware and even hijack your site or server.
- The Thief – Scraper bots harvest your content and repost it on other websites, reverse-engineer your pricing or business models and even steal email addresses for spam email lists.
- The Lure – Spam bots post phishing links that lure visitors away from your site, and use malware or black hat SEO techniques that lead search engines to blacklist your site.
Organized DDoS bot rings
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are the main culprits of bad bot traffic. Take a look at our infographic to see where most attacks come from and who the usual suspects are.
Countries Sending the Most Attacks
1 in 3 cyberattacks originate in China.
- South Korea
- United States
Countries Most Attacked
1 in 2 cyberattacks target United States-based organizations.
- United States
- United Kingdom
How Bots Impact the Global Economy
The annual cost of malicious cybercrime is immense. It is expected to exceed $2 trillion by 2019*. A comprehensive security strategy that keeps your online activities safe can help prevent a cyber attack. One place to start is by examining how your current security solutions stack up or whether you need to upgrade.
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