While the topline data that were issued last month by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the cybersecurity company White Ops assert that the “war on fraud is winnable,” the fight against bot fraud continues to rise on mobile devices.
The practice of bot fraud, which is committed by automated software agents that can engage with material, advertising, and offers in a manner that is similar to that of a human, is widespread and harmful. Worse yet, the proliferation of “crime as a service” has made it simpler to launch bot assaults because the necessary technologies are now being offered for purchase in pre-assembled bundles. The result is a model that reduces the hurdles to entry and increases the bang for the buck. This nefarious mix represents a major opportunity for cybercriminals, who are currently transitioning their strategies and platforms from online to mobile platforms.
After the election of the president of the United States in 2016, a growing number of people have become aware of the threat posed by internet bot attacks. The scope of the issue, on the other hand, is difficult for the average web user to conceptualize. For example, in the banking sector, bots can account for as much as 42 percent of the overall traffic. Aside from that, their actions are responsible for one out of every five website requests.
The most recent cybercrime research conducted by a company that specializes in the provision of business security solutions, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, revealed that businesses were subjected to a total of 3 billion automated bot attacks in the second half of 2018.
The ThreatMetrix Cybercrime Report 2H 2018 examines data from internal sources spanning 17 billion transactions (processed from July 1, 2018, through December 31, 2018) and finds that 189 million bot attacks originated from mobile devices. In comparison to the preceding half-year, this is a 12 percent increase.
This dangerous pattern will almost certainly continue to spread. According to the findings of the survey, “Fraudsters always go where the money is,” and given the ongoing volume shift toward mobile, it is quite expected that the number of mobile attacks will similarly continue to climb.
What Are Robot Scams?
Since it is important to have a clear understanding of one’s adversary, let us first investigate the reasons why bots might target an online form in order to submit fake user data and invalid email addresses.
The vast majority of bots who submit contact form spam are doing so in an effort to advertise a particular firm. These bots will often send a promotional message along with the URL of the company. Forms for lead generation or registration may be submitted by other kinds of bot spam.
This may be done in order to obtain free accounts, access trials, or even to obtain affiliate program incentives such as cost-per-lead performance marketing. Another possibility is that this may be done simply to obtain financial gain. In addition, there are attacks that are purely malevolent in their character and could have been carried out by angry users or competitors.
The Best Way to Avoid Robot Scams
Bots, sometimes referred to as Internet robots, spiders, crawlers, and web bots, are simply computer programs developed to carry out repetitive tasks. Search engines can be indexed by reliable ones.
The malicious ones, on the other hand, will infect systems and then send back the information they have obtained, which may include passwords, keystroke logs, or seized packets. They can also be used to increase the number of attempts that are made to hack into a website.
The fact that they can be easily scaled, mechanized, and implemented on a big scale is one of their primary advantages. There is little opportunity for engagement with humans, and maintenance is virtually non-existent. In the context of fraud, it is very simple to utilize bots and conduct many attacks on hundreds of websites all at once. This is done in order to: produce fictitious user registrations (account farming), carry out takeovers of accounts (ATO attacks), and pay with numbers taken from stolen credit cards.
Block or CAPTCHA Outdated Browsers/ User Agents
The user-agent string lists that are included by default in the configurations of a great number of tools and scripts are, for the most part, out of date.
The more sophisticated attackers won’t be deterred by this measure, but it might catch and discourage some of them. The risk involved in banning obsolete user agents and browsers is extremely minimal. The vast majority of contemporary browsers require users to accept auto-updates, which makes it more difficult to browse the web using an obsolete version.
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Block Proxy Services and Known Hosting Providers
Even if the most sophisticated cyber criminals relocate their operations to other, more difficult-to-block networks, a large number of less sophisticated offenders will continue to use hosting and proxy services that are simple to access. It is possible that denying access to these sites will deter attackers from targeting your website, application programming interface (API), and mobile apps.
Protect Bad Robot Access Points
Be sure to safeguard exposed APIs as well as mobile apps in addition to your website and, whenever possible, share blocking information between different platforms. If you leave any backdoors or other access points accessible, protecting your website won’t accomplish much.
Evaluate Traffic Sources
The term “bot traffic” refers to any traffic to a website or app that is not from human users. It almost always carries a pejorative connotation; yet, in actuality, there is no hard and fast rule about whether or not bot traffic is beneficial or harmful; it all relies on the intent of the bots.
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Some automated programs, or bots, are necessary for the operation of beneficial services such as search engines and digital assistants (e.g., Siri, Alexa). The majority of businesses have no problem with having bots of this kind on their websites. Other bots, such as those employed for activities such as credential stuffing, data scraping, and the initiation of distributed denial of service assaults, can be harmful. Even some of the “bad” bots that aren’t as malicious as others, such as illegal web crawlers, can be a problem since they mess with site metrics and generate click fraud.
It is estimated that bot traffic accounts for more than 40 percent of all Internet traffic, with a sizeable fraction of that traffic coming from malevolent bots. Because of this, a great number of companies are looking at techniques to control the amount of bot traffic that visits their websites.
Web engineers are able to examine network requests made to their sites in order to determine the presence of potential bot traffic. It is also possible to identify bot traffic with the assistance of an integrated web analytics engine, such as Google Analytics or Heap. The following metric irregularities are tell-tale signs that traffic originates from bots:
Abnormally high pageviews: It’s likely that there are bots clicking through a website if the number of pageviews on that website suddenly spikes in a way that’s never happened before and is completely unexpected.
An abnormally high bounce rate: is the number of users who visit a single page on a website and then exit the website without clicking anything on the page. The bounce rate is used to identify the number of people who do this. A sudden increase in the bounce rate may be the result of bots being instructed to visit a single page.
An unexpectedly high or low session length: The session duration, also known as the number of time users spend on a website, should be reasonably consistent.
An increase in session length that cannot be explained may be an indicator that bots are visiting the website at a rate that is particularly slow. On the other hand, an unexpected decline in session duration may be the consequence of bots that are browsing through the pages on the website much more quickly than a normal user would.
A rise in phony-looking conversions: such as accounts being created with gibberish email addresses or contact forms being submitted with fake names and phone numbers, can be the result of spam bots or form-filling bots, which can be referred to together as “junk conversions.” Spike in traffic from an unexpected location: A sudden spike in users from one particular region, particularly a region that is unlikely to have a large number of people who are fluent in the native language of the site, can be an indication that the traffic coming from that region is coming from bots.
Look into Traffic Spikes
Unauthorized bot traffic can have an effect on analytics data such as the number of page views, the bounce rate, the length of sessions, the geolocation of users, and conversions.
These variations in metrics have the potential to cause a great deal of frustration for the site owner. It is extremely challenging to evaluate the efficiency of a website that is seeing a high volume of bot activity. A/B testing and conversion rate optimization are two examples of site-improvement strategies that are hampered by the statistical noise generated by bots, which in turn makes these strategies less effective.
Look Out for Failed Login Attempts
Establish a baseline for unsuccessful login attempts, and then keep an eye out for any anomalies or spikes.
You should establish warnings so that you are told immediately if any problems arise. Because more sophisticated “low and slow” attacks do not set out alerts at the user or session level, it is imperative that global thresholds be established.
Evaluate A Robot Mitigation Solution
Every day, bad actors put a lot of effort into trying to target websites located all over the world.
The sheer volume of automated threats, as well as their increasing sophistication and the amount of damage they inflict to businesses, puts a heavy burden on the IT staff and resources. Bots. These days, bots can fool traditional security measures by behaving like humans and getting through them. Think about conducting research on potential bot mitigation vendors who have the kind of in-depth industry knowledge and attentive assistance that you will require to have complete visibility and command over abusive traffic.
Stay Clear of Robot Scams!
Every single company that has an online presence, regardless of location on the globe, faces significant challenges brought on by bots.
Websites and mobile applications are always under attack, which is wreaking havoc on both platforms. These attacks also pave the door for illicit activities such as online scraping, the collection of personal and financial data, digital advertising fraud, spam, and transaction fraud. However, this is only the beginning of the problems that can arise as a result of bot fraud.
The user experience is also degraded as a result of bot activity, which can dissuade customers from using a product and ultimately lead to churn. Bots compete with human players by purchasing all of the available limited items, reselling high-demand event and concert tickets, and breaking the laws of the game in order to win.
In addition to this, it is possible for marketers to confuse the activity of bots in their applications with that of real people, leading them to invest money and effort to re-engage and retarget bots as part of bigger plans designed to increase longer-term loyalty and retention. Because the users were never human, to begin with, all efforts or campaigns that are made in good faith with the intention of regaining users are guaranteed to fail in this scenario.
The features that help solve the problem of ad fraud can also assist app marketers to win the battle against mobile app fraud. This is good news for app marketers. It is all about fighting smarter with data to pick out bots so that both ad fraud and app fraud can be stopped in their tracks — and at scale. This clears the way for marketers to concentrate their campaigns and complete strategy on creating long-term connections with actual people rather than bots, which is a significant advantage.