Bots are software scripts or automated programs, which are designed to perform tasks repeatedly and at high speeds. Simply put, these bots will perform a task much faster than humans can manage. Furthermore, they perform these tasks with minimal errors, thus making them efficient and effective for repetitive tasks.
For instance, you can use bots for marketing, customer service, social media management and managing various aspects of sales. Unfortunately, not all bots are harmless. Some bots may compromise various aspects of your site. And these are known as bad bots.
How to Identify Bad Bots
Traffic bots attack various types of websites around the clock. So, how can you identify bot traffic on your website? One of the most effective ways of identifying traffic bots is to use an integrated web analytics tool like Google Analytics. Once you run the tool, you should check for the following metrics:
Higher than Normal Pageviews
If your website experiences an unusually higher than normal traffic, there’s a high chance there are hundreds of bad bots clicking through your site. A sudden spike in traffic may be a sign that a high number of bad bots are returning to your site frequently.
Unusually High Bounce Rate
Bounce rate measures the number of people visiting your site and then leaving without opening a second page or even clicking on anything on the page. If your website records an unusually high bounce rate, there’s a high chance that thousands of bots have been directed to your website.
As much as you may want your website to have as many conversions as possible, some of them may not be worth your time. And they could be caused by bad bots. For instance, you may notice a sudden increase in accounts created using shady email addresses. You may also notice your contact forms being filled with fake information.
How Malicious Bots Can Damage Your Site
Different bots are designed to undertake different tasks. And once they are directed to your site, these bots will damage your site in different ways. Some of the most dangerous bots that can significantly damage your site include:
As their name suggests, click bots are designed to make fake clicks on online ads. And as a result, you will end up spending more money than you should on your ads. Click bots can be a real threat to people who are running PPC ads.
These bots are designed to perform content scraping on websites. They usually harvest the content or files that you’ve already published on your website. This content may then be posted to another website, resulting in duplicate issues, which can take quite some time to solve.
Download bots work in almost a similar manner as click bots. But instead of clicking on ads, these bots will be adding a fake download count, thus skewing your site’s conversion data.
As their name suggests, spy bots are normally used to harvest sensitive information from vulnerable websites. For instance, if they are directed to your site and your website is not well secured, they can collect sensitive information like email addresses or even financial data.
Bot Traffic Management Tips
As you can see, bots can damage your site’s performance in several ways. And if the issue is not addressed on time, then the damage may be costly. Fortunately, there are several bot management tips that you can implement on your site to block both current and future bots. Here are some strategies to consider:
Identify the Extent of the Problem
Before you implement any bot management measure on your site, you will first need to determine the root and extent of the problem. After all, you can only solve a problem effectively if you understand it well.
For example, you can experience a sudden surge of clicks on a certain page for no apparent reason. And if you haven’t launched a marketing campaign to promote that page, there’s a high chance that the sudden increase in activity may have been caused by a bot. So, ensure you first monitor everything to identify the root and extent of the problem.
Investing in a Robust Bot Management Solution
Once you’ve identified the extent and nature of the types of traffic bots you are dealing with, you can then go ahead to invest in a robust bot management solution. Investing in a powerful bot management solution is vital when it comes to dealing with the challenges and complexities that today’s bots present. An AI-powered solution may probably be the best option since it can monitor your website round the clock and defend it against all sorts of bots.
Add CAPTCHA Tools
One of the easiest ways of preventing bots from attacking your pages is by implementing CAPTCHA tools on your site. CAPTCHA tools are designed in a way that they will force a visitor to undertake a certain action on the site.
For example, the tool may require the visitor to complete a challenge like clicking on pictures that contain the same item. With these tools, you are making sure that only humans will be interacting with your site. And the good news is, these tools will not block Google spider bots from crawling your site.
Detect Bots at the Source
Detecting bots at the source and blocking them right away is the only fool-proof method of protecting your site against them. And for this method to work, you will need a tool that can detect bots at the server-side and client-side.
Putting it All Together
Keeping bots away from your site should be a priority for every business. Without adequate protection, these bots can perform malicious attacks on your website, leading to loss of sensitive data and costly website damage.
However, it’s also important to note that bot management is not a one-off task. You will need to keep monitoring your website round the clock and dealing with the issue on the spot. And a reliable bot management solution can help to monitor your site and protect your site.
Binary Blogger has spent 20 years in the Information Security space currently providing security solutions and evangelism to clients. From early web application programming, system administration, senior management to enterprise consulting I provide practical security analysis and solutions to help companies and individuals figure out HOW to be secure every day.