Sniper bots (or “snipe bots”) are automated bots that monitor time-based activity and submit information at the very last moment, removing the opportunity for other people to respond to that action. The most common example of sniper bots’ use is last-second bidding on auction items on sites such as eBay.
Sniper bots exist on all auction sites, and they are especially problematic on online retail stores like ebay.com, where sniper bots can bid up an item’s price to a reasonable level while hiding the actual market value behind the item. Sniper bot activity is most common on the last day of an auction or sale; however, there have been instances where this kind of automated bidding has caused problems even after an item has sold by forcing customers to use the “Buy It Now” option if they want to make sure that they actually get a chance at purchasing a product for their desired price.
Although sniper bots can be frustrating, they are not directly harmful to your website or other users – their only goal is to get the best possible price on an item. There are other scam bots that resort to more aggressive tactics like clicking on fake buy buttons or attempting to extort money out of unwary online shoppers.
Sniper bots fall between the two extremes of automated activity in order to remove human interaction from some aspect of trading. The most common use for sniper bot technology is bidders compensating for last-second bidding by humans. For example, a bidder might accidentally close a window before submitting a bid just as their competition is about to respond with a similar bid at the very last second. Sniper bot software comes into play here and places a higher bid than its competitor to ensure that its bid is placed before the final deadline. If you have experienced this kind of activity on a website, consider registering a complaint with the company hosting the website.
How to spot a sniper bot
The most common way to spot a sniper bot is by watching the last-second bidding activity on an auction. If you notice an auction that has had very little interest until the last day, chances are there is a sniper bot submitting bids in the final seconds of the auction.
How to prevent sniper bots from outbidding you
Last-second bidding is frustrating, but there are some things you can do to prevent being outbid by a sniper bot. First of all, find out the item’s “reserve price.” This is an unadvertised minimum acceptable bid that must be met in order for the auction to close. You can often check this information by logging into eBay and searching for an active auction (this feature only works on auctions where you cannot place bids). Click “See details” next to the current high bid; eBay will show you both the highest current bid and the reserve price. If you notice that the highest bidder has not yet met the reserve price, consider placing your own last-minute bid before time runs out.
How to fight sniper bots on your website
Although prevention is the best defense against sniper bots, effective software tools can be developed to fight off these automated competitors. These solutions are designed to monitor activities that appear to be automated and render them useless by preventing the creation of fake accounts or filling out forms at rapid speed in order to get the information submitted on time.
To combat the use of sniper bots, you will need a security system that allows you to monitor incoming orders, form submissions, search engine queries and more, tracking them against IP addresses so you can weed out a suspicious activity before it becomes an issue. Recording all traffic on your website this way makes it easy to spot potential raiders or other bots trying to gain access to your company’s systems; “bad” bots are often visible because they lack certain security features like firewall settings or encryption protocols.
Frequently asked questions about sniper bots
Is it legal to use sniper bots?
Using a service that employs the tactics mentioned above is acceptable. However, there are other uses for this type of technology that may be illegal: submitting fake bids or using spam email software to advertise on behalf of your website would both fall into this category. If you are unsure about what kinds of actions you can take to protect your business from scammers and competitors, consult an attorney before taking action.
How do I report a company using sniper bots?
If you see an online auction that is clearly being dominated by sniper bots, you can report this activity to the website owner.
When reporting a company that is using sniper bots, it is important to provide as much information about the incident as possible. Be prepared to provide clear evidence of the use of a sniper bot (eBay suggests screenshots or copies of emails) in order to have your complaint taken seriously.
What software tools can I use to detect sniper bots?
Sniper bots are detected using security software that comes pre-configured to look for certain anomalies like repeated submissions of search terms or form filings from the same user-agent (a unique tag identifying the device used by a user). This kind of security tool will also check your website’s traffic against known IP addresses associated with malicious software so you can recognize characteristics common in scammers. This functionality will protect both your website’s security and its reputation by limiting the effects of automated attacks.
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