Bots, or to be more specific, internet bots are now everywhere. Around half of the total visits to websites come from bots, so if you are running a website, chances are some of your traffic comes from these bots–both good and bad ones.
While there are certainly good bots owned by reputable companies (Google, Facebook, etc.) that are beneficial for your website and/or your business, it’s important to note that a huge majority of these bots are malevolent, owned/operated by cybercriminals for malicious intent.
These bots seek vulnerabilities on websites, steal content and leak/publish it elsewhere, infect machines with malware, and commit fraud, among other damages. Here we will discuss the impact of these good bots, and bad bots and the proper management approaches to manage both of them.
Good Bots VS Bad Bots – Different Tasks
A major difference between good bots and bad bots is the tasks they perform. With that being said, below, we will discuss common task examples for both good bots and bad bots.
Different Tasks of Good Bots
1. Spider Bots
The main task of these bots is to ‘crawl’ website content, hence the nickname spider. A good example of spider bots is the various bots operated by major search engine companies like Google, Bing, or Yahoo, among others.
Due to their modus operandi, they are also often called crawler bots, or simply crawlers. Spider bots aren’t only limited to search engine applications but also to other applications like pricing aggregation, news aggregation, etc.
It’s important to note that hackers and cybercriminals own bad/malicious crawler bots. Still, we can configure whether some or all website content can or cannot be crawled via Robots Exclusion Standard or more commonly known as Robots.txt.
2. Data Bots
This type of bots, as the name suggests, collects data to update information in real-time. A good example is bots collecting weather information in various weather report services/apps, as well as other similar information like currency rates, temperature, etc. Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant can also be categorized as a more ‘advanced’ form of data bots.
3. Copyright Bots
This type of bots works with a similar principle to spider bots and will crawl websites and platforms. However, they are specifically looking for content that may violate copyright law, for example, copyrighted images on a website.
YouTube ID bot is a good example of copyright bots, scanning countless YouTube videos for copyrighted songs, footage, or images in real-time. These bots can be operated by any company or individual who owns valuable copyrighted assets.
4. Monitoring Bots
These bots monitor website metrics in real-time, for example, monitoring whether a website is down, changes in link profile, and alert users for major changes. It can be beneficial for both website owners and users.
Chatbots are deployed to imitate basic human conversation. It can answer questions with pre-programmed responses or can even generate responses by itself by utilizing AI and machine learning technologies.
Different Tasks Of Bad Bots
1. Content Scraping
In principle, this type of malicious bots works in a similar principle to spider bots in crawling web pages. Still, they specifically scrape content contained in the web page for various malicious purposes.
For example, the attacker might steal the content published on the web page and publish it elsewhere, creating SEO performance issues for the original web page. The bot can also scrape hidden/unpublished information and leak it to the public or the site’s competitors.
2. Malware Injection
These bots are designed to look for security vulnerabilities and opportunities to spread malware. The objective is to take control of the infected devices and networks, turning them into zombie devices as a part of a botnet that the attacker can ‘use’ to perform other attacks like DDoS attacks.
As the name suggests, these bots are designed to spread spam content, commonly fraudulent links to drive traffic to the spammer’s website or platform. A common example is spam content we can see on the comment sections of blogs and social media posts. The existence of spambots has been significantly reduced in recent years because the associated scam is now highly unprofitable due to the changes made by online advertisers.
4. Brute Force
Bots can be deployed to perform brute force attacks and credential stuffing attacks to attempt account takeover. For example, a bot can try all the possibilities of a password at a much faster speed than any human user.
Potential Impact Of Unmanaged Malicious Bots
Now that we’ve discussed the common examples of both good bots and bad bots, here are some potential impacts of unmanaged bog activities on your site.
1. A slowdown in website performance
Slowdown and other performance issues aren’t exclusively caused by bad bots but can also be an impact of unmanaged good bots. When not managed, bots can make more requests than what can be handled by your server, straining your network resources, which can even completely shut down your site when you are not careful. Consider blocking even good bots that aren’t going to be beneficial to your site.
2. Skewed SEO performance
Scraped content that is published somewhere else, for example, can cause duplicate content issues and hurt the site’s SEO. Website performance and user experience issues can also cause a downgrade in SEO rankings.
3. Malware infection
Your website might be infected by malware, turning your whole system into parts of a botnet. Even worse, you can spread the infection to your website visitors.
Bots can aggregate your content and steal valuable traffic from your site. This can be a major issue for portals and blogs.
5. Competitive advantage loss
In certain niches, bots can steal sensitive information like product prices or can launch inventory hoarding attacks on eCommerce sites. These conditions can result in the business losing its competitive advantage.
6. Account takeover and data breaches
When bots gain control of accounts containing sensitive data, it can lead to various other damages, from serious data breaches to your database to permanent damage to your site’s reputation.
End Words – Managing Malicious Bots
With how malicious bots can cause serious and even permanent impacts on your site’s performance and reputation, managing these bot activities is now a necessity for any business with an online presence.
An AI-powered account takeover detection and protection solution like DataDome can use behavioral analysis to detect and manage malicious bots in real-time and autopilot, effectively managing both good bot and bad bot activities on your site to protect your valuable data and ensuring your site is always performing at its peak.
If you are interested in even more technology-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.