Bots and How They Affect Your Business

December 22nd, 2021

In 2020, internet bots represented almost half of the world’s web traffic, and even though there are many kinds of bots for all kinds of purposes, a substantial portion of that traffic comes from “bad bots,” or bots with malicious intent.

Good bots can be very helpful. For example, Googlebot and Bingbot scan and index your website so your customers can easily find you. Good bots are programmed to look for rules set in a website’s robots.txt file, read them, and respect them. On the other hand, bad bots can cause all sorts of issues and damage to your system.

So how do bots affect your system and how can you protect your website from bad bots?

Bots are visiting your website every day and that is a fact. The most common uses for bad bots include:

  • Web and price scraping — Hackers steal web content by copying entire sites via crawling bots. Product prices can also be scraped from E-Commerce sites so companies can use them to beat out their competitors.
  • Data harvesting — Bots are used to harvest specific data, such as personal or financial data and contact information that is available online.
  • Brute-force logins — Bad bots will mess with website pages containing login forms and try to gain access by trying out different username and password combinations.
  • Spam — Bot can automatically interact with forms and buttons on websites and social media pages to leave false product reviews or fake comments.

Each website is targeted for a different reason and through various methods so there is no one-size-fits-all cure for bad bots. But there are some steps you can take to protect your business and start addressing the problem.

Be very careful about how and where information about your software is shared.

This probably goes without saying but our #1 suggestion if you want to share aspects of your project publicly is to make sure you are not releasing credentials or other ways to access important areas of your project to public domains. Putting your private data in public resources may make it easy for humans to use, but it makes it even easier for bots to infiltrate key areas of your system and create urgent security threats.

Protect every access point a “bad bot” could possibly enter.

Make sure you are not only protecting your website, but that you’re also guarding exposed APIs and apps. Share blocking information between these wherever you can because protecting your website doesn’t do any good if backdoors are left open. 

One form of blocking a visitor’s access to your site is having them submit a request form, and once it’s reviewed and approved the visitor’s access is granted. Otherwise if the request is deemed malicious or is not fully submitted, the request is dropped and access is not permitted.

Monitor and Investigate Substantial Traffic Spikes

Monitor your traffic sources carefully using tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Signs of bot traffic include high bounce rates with low conversions, especially when its coming from the same sources.

Traffic spikes may appear to be a win at firstt, but if you can find a clear, specific source for the spike it could be a sign of bot activity. Staying aware of your standard traffic patterns, and looking out for bot traffic spikes are quick ways to keep informed about threats and whether or not your system needs additional security.

Your website is one of your most important online business assets, so it’s important that you take security precautions to protect it from bad bots. A protected and well-maintained website provides your customers  with a secure environment to interact with and can increase their trust in your brand.

If you need help securing your website, Coretechs can help. Talk to us today!