Most of the web traffic today are originated from bots. Bots account for over two-thirds of internet traffic and can be categorized into good and malicious bots. Malicious bots account for over 40% of the total internet traffic. For online business owners, malicious bots are a thorn in the flesh. Since merchants depend on online traffic to make critical decisions, bot traffic can cause them to make skewed decisions that can hurt the business in the end. Additionally, attackers use malicious bots to launch attacks on businesses.
Hackers prefer using bots because they have an incredible work rate. A task one human can accomplish in one hour, a bot can do it in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. For the above reasons, we must find a way to prevent bots. In this article, we will look at bot mitigation and the various techniques to mitigate against bots. Here’s an overview:
Bot mitigation reduces malicious bot traffic’s risks to the applications, backend services, and APIs. The risks can fuel automated attacks like vulnerability probing and DDoS campaigns. Various techniques are used for bot mitigation. However, a bot mitigation solution is a beast among all of them. It uses several methods to detect and block bad bots while allowing the good ones to continue operating. A bot mitigation solution also prevents bot traffic from overwhelming the network.
Why is it important?
As we have seen above, a good percentage of online traffic is bot-driven. Over 40% of all online traffic is estimated to be bot traffic. Bots can perform various functions, from filling out forms to having real-time conversations with people. However, bots can also be maliciously used. The malicious uses include conducting a layer-7 DDoS attack, overwhelming an API, or checking a site for XSS (Cross-scripting) vulnerabilities. Overall, there is an unprecedented rise in bot attacks that cause financial losses and data breaches. To prevent bot attacks, you need a bot mitigation solution that can do the following:
- Rapidly detect malicious bot traffic using detection mechanisms like IP address filtering, block and allow lists, and device fingerprinting, with little or no false positives.
- Take preventive measures like rate limiting to prevent the bots from overwhelming the infrastructure supporting mobile applications, web applications, and microservices.
- Constantly update the bot signatures while offering analytics that shows current and past trends for bot attacks and activity.
Financial services and airlines are the main targets of bot attacks. For airlines, scalper bots are used for price comparison and scalping. Bots are used to buy all the cheap tickets and later resell them at a profit by a scalper. However, the two are not the only targets of bot attacks. A bot attack can target organizations of any kind.
Therefore, for better, effective, and reliable fraud detection and protection, organizations need a reliable bot mitigation strategy, API security, and improved applications.
How Do Bot Mitigation Solutions Work?
A good bot mitigation solution uses multiple bot management and detection techniques. If the attacks are more sophisticated, the solution can leverage machine learning or artificial intelligence. The two allow the solution to adapt to the evolving attacks and bots. A layered approach that combines security tools like API gateways and WAF (Web Application Firewalls) with the bot management solution offers the most comprehensive bot protection through:
Allow and blocklists:
We can use policy expressions, subnets, and IP addresses to define the blocklists and allow lists for the bots. The three represent the bot origins that are both unacceptable and acceptable. If a bot is included in the allow list, it can go through the bot detection measures. Otherwise, the bot is checked against a list of blocked bots or subjected to TPS (transaction per second) monitoring.
TPS and rate-limiting:
A bot management solution can throttle the bot traffic coming from unknown sources. Therefore, no single client can make unlimited requests to the server or an API and overwhelm the network. Transactions per second (TPS) defines a time interval for the bot traffic and may shut the bots if they have higher total requests than the baseline.
IP address reputation analysis and Blocking:
The bot mitigation can maintain a list of IP addresses that it knows are malicious and are bots.
The IP addresses may be fixed or dynamically updated, adding new risky addresses as the IP reputations evolve. This helps in blocking the dangerous bot traffic.
Device signature fingerprinting and the management of bot signatures:
You can identify the bot by its signature-based on unique attributes like its HTTP requests. On the other hand, device fingerprinting reveals whether a bot is connected to specific attributes of a browser or the request headers associated with malicious bot traffic.
Other Bot Mitigation Techniques:
Use of CAPTCHA:
Any internet user must have come across a particular form of CAPTCHA. CAPTCHAs may be in many forms like a mathematical problem, entering the displayed text, ticking the box to prove that you are not a robot, or selecting the images that contain specific properties or objects. CAPTCHA has been proven to be an effective bot mitigation technique. However, they may affect the user experience, affecting the traffic.
Human interactions with web applications and websites are all similar. Based on what they see, they use a mouse to point to and click. Honeypots are hidden fields within an application or a website that a human being cannot see. However, because a bot is programmed to do something repeatedly, it will still click the hidden field. If this happens, you have a bot on your site that you can remove. Unlike CAPTCHA, Honeypots do not affect the user experience. However, there are sophisticated bots that may bypass this method.
Direct Blocking is an effective bot mitigation technique if you know the type of bot you are protecting your website from. You put measures that ensure that it does not access the site. However, bots are relentless, and the blocked bot may reappear with increased sophistication.
We need to embrace various bot mitigation solutions because bots are here to stay. They pose a severe threat, and you must protect your infrastructure. A sound bot mitigation and management plan ensure that your business thrives and your systems and data remain intact. With the majority of the internet traffic being bot-driven, having a reliable bot mitigation solution ensures that the decisions arrived at using the traffic are correct.