Did you ever wonder what a cyber bot is? How pervasive are bots today on the Internet? How are bots being used today? This article will explore the bot landscape, applications of bots, and how to prevent bots in the first place.
According to Barracuda, 64% of all internet traffic is made up of good and bad bots. Here is the breakdown of the bot traffic on the Internet:
As AI/Machine learning becomes more and more integrated into bot software, bots will continue to dominate the landscape into the future. Automation will continue to increase for both hackers and employees trying to automate their repetitive manual tasks. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is automating repetitive, manual tasks. There are a lot of vendors that provide RPA tools. Those tools can be used for both good and bad bots. They are marketed to the good guys.
Will bots start the next world war between the good bots vs the bad bots? Only time will tell.
What is a bot?
A bot, short for robot, is a piece of software that automates mundane repetitive tasks of users. Bots can also simulate the actions of a human. Bots are getting harder and harder to detect as they become more and more intelligent.
Good bots make up 25% of all internet traffic. But, what is a good bot? A good bot is a computer program that performs an automated task for a user that removes the repetitive manual tasks. Good bots can increase the productivity of users who use them.
Applications of Good bots
Some examples of good bots are as follows:
- Web crawlers such as GoogleBot
- Web scrapers, a bot that reads data from websites. This type of bot can be used for legitimate purposes and also for nefarious purposes.
- Social media/blogging bots automate the tasks of creating blog content and social media posts and uploading those posts for you. It automates the repetitive tasks of working with social media and blogging posts.
- RPA bots help users automate their repetitive tasks.
Bad bots make up 39% of all Internet traffic. But, what is a bad bot? A bad bot is a computer program that performs an automated task for an attacker that removes the repetitive manual tasks of hacking. Bad bots are created for nefarious reasons such as stealing personally identifiable information (PII) to enrich themselves or create havoc on an organization’s systems.
Applications of Malicious/Bad Bots
According to OWASP, there is a list of automated threats that exist. Some examples of bad/malicious bots are as follows:
- Account Aggregation, a bot that compiles credentials and information from multiple accounts
- Account Creation, a bot that does bulk account creation that is misused to generate spam, money laundering, spreading malware, etc.
- Ad Fraud, a bot that creates phony ads for nefarious purposes
- CAPTCHA Defeat, bots are able to simulate user activity so they can be defeated by intelligent bots
- Card Cracking, using stolen payment cards to crack security codes and start/expiry dates
- Carding, using stolen cards to make multiple payment authorizations to validate payment card data
- Cashing Out, buying goods with stolen cards, or stolen user account data
- Credential Cracking, brute force attempts to log into websites with stolen user credentials
- Credential Stuffing, mass login attempts to verify stolen user credentials
- Denial of Inventory, deplete goods and services without ever completing the purchase
- Denial of Service, flooding a website until resources are exhausted and causes the system to crash
- Fingerprinting is used to determine the software versions and operating systems to test vulnerabilities
- Footprinting is used to probe and explore systems to identify vulnerabilities to exploit
- Web Scraping is used to download information from websites like contact information and email addresses and used for nefarious purposes
- Spamming is used to send malicious information to users to cause them to click or provide sensitive information
- Vulnerability Scanning is used in conjunction with fingerprinting and footprinting to try to exploit vulnerabilities of websites and systems.
In the technology world, there are always good and bad uses of the software. Bots are increasingly getting more and more intelligent and acting more and more like regular users. Detecting these malicious bots requires some specialized tool to do so. Here are some ways that you and your organization can protect yourself:
- Use an application-layer firewall
- Update software and operating systems patches when required
- Update virus protection
- Invest in bot protection
- Use CAPTCHA to provide a challenge-based approach to mitigation
- Use AI/machine learning monitoring tools to assist in detecting and removing bot threats. According to Meticulous Research,“the artificial intelligence (AI) in cybersecurity market is expected to reach $46.3 billion, at a year-over-year growth rate of 23.6% during the forecast period of 2020 to 2027.”
Why are we using bots in the first place? The worry is that bots will start taking over job roles. The problem is the skills gap exists so new innovations are needed to assist overwhelmed cybersecurity analysts. There are way too many threats and organizations are under constant attack which has overwhelmed analysts. They cannot keep up. Bots are there to help them and assist them in doing their jobs more effectively and automate the repetitive tasks so they can focus on more meaningful analysis.
In this article, we reviewed what bots are, how they are being used both good and bad. The applications of these bots and how to prevent bots from infiltrating your computers and organizations. Like any technology, bots can be used for good and for nefarious purposes. We need specialized AI in cybersecurity software and others to help detect the good from the bad. The landscape seems to change often so organizations have to stay on top of the threats and remove any threat of a data breach that can ruin a company and tarnish its reputation.
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I am DrM, founder of http://techninjamasters.com. I have been working, learning, teaching, coaching, consulting, writing in technology for over 40 years.