What are Bots Costing Telecommunications Companies?
Published: 16/09/2021

What are Bots Costing Telecommunications Companies?

  • Yasmin Duggal, Cybersecurity Content Specialist, Netacea

4 minutes read

Netacea recently surveyed 440 businesses from across the USA and UK to understand how much financial impact bot attacks are having across different industries. Read the full results in our report: The Bot Management Review: What Are Bots Costing Your Business?

Understanding the impact of Covid-19 on telecoms

Telecommunications businesses were hit by unprecedented demand during the pandemic. The sudden shift to remote working created an increased need for networking infrastructure and connectivity, and the need for virtual communication saw a sharp increase in mobile usage.

As an industry that holds vast amounts of valuable and sensitive personal information, telecoms is a huge target for cybercriminals and bot attacks. In fact, 75% of telco businesses we surveyed had their website attacked by a bot in 2020, while a quarter suffered mobile attacks. Over 20% of telcos said they lost a moderate amount of revenue in 2020 through advertising to bots – a quarter said this loss was up to 5% of online revenue last year.

But what were the biggest threats to telecommunications businesses over the last 12 months?

What are the top bot threats to telecommunications businesses?

Sniper bots are the top threat to telecoms

Sniper bots are automated bots that monitor time-based activity online and submit information at the very last moment, removing the opportunity for other people to respond to that action.

A common problem for telecommunications, 38% of telco businesses surveyed said they had been attacked by a sniper bot in 2020.

According to Netacea’s Head of Threat Research, although sniper bots are mostly seen on retail and auction sites like eBay, and often cause a problem for eCommerce businesses, snipers targeted telco websites are most likely bots purchasing short-term offers. As a result, 73% of telcos said sniper bots had a known financial impact on their business last year.

Account checker bots target 32% of telcos

An account checker bot is an attack tool that takes lists of leaked username and password pairs and tests them against a website login page. With one click of the button, attackers can find out whether an account exists on any number of websites or not. Attackers try combinations of credentials until they find one that works. Attackers can then go back to this website and start using the newly found login details for whatever purpose they require – including email spam, identity theft and fraud

With telecoms responsible for vast amounts of customer data, their websites are a common target for account checker bots with a huge number of customer records open to fraudulent access and abuse.

Almost a third of telco businesses surveyed said they had been attacked by account checker bots in 2020. Over half estimated that account checker bots have cost them 3% of their online revenue.

Over a quarter of telecoms attacked by scrapers

Price scraping is an illegal competitive price monitoring tactic used to track other valuable information. Competitors use this strategy to attract price-sensitive buyers by setting their prices lower than standard prices in the marketplace.

Telco websites are scraped for all sorts of content, but price scraping from competitors is a major problem, with 28% of telecoms businesses we surveyed saying they were targeted by scrapers last year.

Almost 30% of telco businesses said competitive scraping had cost their customer satisfaction by up to 10%, and 36% said they’ve lost up to 10% of business to competitors.

How can telco businesses stay protected?

92% of telecoms organizations surveyed said that bot management represents between 1-10% of their total security budget, while every business said it took them four to six months to realize they had been attacked by scalper bots – another top cause for concern for telco.

With this in mind, telecommunications businesses are facing significant financial and reputational damage from bot attacks if they don’t invest in sophisticated security measures.

The first step in minimizing the impact of bots is to recognize they are happening and put a plan in place to stop them – in other words, investing in a real-time detection and mitigation solution to stop bots at the point of entry to your online store.

Protecting telecommunications with sophisticated bot management

By monitoring web log data on the server side of your telco website, Netacea Bot Management gains a full picture of website, mobile and API traffic and uses advanced AI and machine learning to analyze users’ intent in real time.

This allows us to mark out malicious bots targeting telecommunications sites and block their access, reducing the risk of sniping, scraping, account fraud and more.

Learn more about the financial impact of bots on businesses in our full report, or register to watch our upcoming live webinar: What Are Bots Costing Your Business?

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