Published: 08/06/2022

Bot mitigation techniques for online businesses

If your website, app, or API is being unexpectedly inundated with visitors and information requests, you’re probably experiencing a bot attack. It’s not always easy to detect bots, but if you see a surge in traffic unrelated to a campaign, or receive an influx of spam comments and form submissions, bots could be the cause.

Managing bots isn’t easy, but with the right bot mitigation techniques in place, you can protect your site from data loss, downtime, and business disruption.

Find out what bot mitigation is, and what techniques you can use to protect your business online.

What is bot mitigation?

Bot mitigation is the process of detecting bots that visit your site and reducing the impact they have on your business, users, and customers. Bot mitigation solutions are designed to allow humans and good bots to use your site as normal, while preventing malicious bots from gaining unauthorized access.

Good bots vs bad bots

Not all bots are bad. Some actively support your online strategies, including SEO, customer service, and other marketing techniques. Good bots include:

  • Search engine bots — these spiders are designed to find, crawl, and index websites so they appear in Google and other search engines
  • Copyright bots — these crawl sites to flag up content that potentially belongs to other authors
  • Site monitors — these audit your site performance for issues like downtime and server errors.

Unfortunately, bad bots outnumber good bots. Malicious bots include:

  • Credential stuffing bots — which bombard sites with login attempts until they find valid username and password combinations
  • Phishing and spam bots — which attempt to lure users into revealing payment details or other personal information
  • Card cracking bots — a brute force attack designed to verify debit and credit card details
  • DDoS bots — which bombard your website with traffic in an attempt to cause downtime and business disruption
  • Scalper bots — which buy up in-demand stock and tickets, preventing genuine buyers from purchasing them.

These aren’t the only bad bots out there — but they’re some of the most prolific. Malicious bots like these can cause everything from data breach fines to sustained website downtime, costing businesses millions of dollars.

Why do businesses need to mitigate malicious bot traffic?

Malicious bots are responsible for some of the most costly internet security breaches in recent years.

In April 2020, Zoom — which had grown rapidly in response to a series of Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns — suffered a huge data breach as a result of a credential stuffing bot attack. Half a million Zoom passwords were put up for sale on the dark web, which led to an influx of “Zoombombing” attacks. Ultimately, Zoom agreed to pay $85 million to settle the privacy lawsuit.

With the introduction of privacy regulations like CCPA and GDPR, data security has become a key issue for businesses. CCPA breaches can cost up to $7,500 per individual violation, while GDPR breaches incur fines of up to €20 million/£17.5 million, or 4% of your annual turnover.

Downtime can also cost businesses thousands of dollars in lost revenue and staff time. Estimates suggest one hour of downtime can cause businesses to lose between $300,000 and $400,000. Mitigating DDoS attacks and other volumetric threats can significantly reduce website downtime.

As bot technology develops, businesses are facing attacks from increasingly sophisticated bots. Putting a bot mitigation solution in place now can protect your business from huge repercussions down the line.

7 bot mitigation techniques

Bot activity is on the rise — so it’s important to know how to detect and manage bot traffic.

Here are seven bot mitigation methods online businesses use to protect themselves from bot traffic:

  • Signature-based detection — systems scan visitors for certain patterns (i.e. signatures) that indicate traffic from known bots and botnets
  • Blacklisting and whitelisting — systems blacklist or whitelist certain site visitors based on lists of known bots and/or trusted sources
  • Challenge-based mitigation — anti-spam human verification methods like CAPTCHA are designed to prevent bots from injecting malicious code into your site
  • Rate limiting — restricting traffic to your site can prevent volumetric attacks like DDoS
  • IP blocking — systems determine the type and reputation of IP addresses sending traffic to your site, and block or allow them based on this
  • Behavior-based detection — systems learn about bot behavior, and use this information to block visitors that follow these patterns
  • Device and user profiling — systems use device and browser information to create a profile of a user and decide if they’re a bot or a human.

5 actionable ways to minimize bot threats

If you’re concerned that your website is vulnerable to bad bot traffic, here are five ways to instantly mitigate bot activity:

  1. Backup your files — if your device or network becomes infected with malware, you may need to perform a hard reset. Backup your files regularly to minimize the risk of data loss
  2. Install reCAPTCHA — prevent bots from injecting your website forms with malicious code (although this can also reduce genuine form conversions)
  3. Update your web application firewall — WAFs are only effective against known threats if they’re programmed with the most up-to-date information, so update them as soon as you can
  4. Find out if you’re part of a botnet — being part of a botnet can compromise your data security, so look for the telltale signs that your device has become part of a botnet
  5. Deploy bot management software — the only way to ensure your site is adequately protected from advanced bots is to use dedicated bot management software.

What to do if you’re experiencing a bot attack right now

Bot mitigation software can provide your website, app, or API with immediate protection. Netacea’s server-side bot management solution can be deployed across your network in minutes.

If you’re currently under attack, put in an urgent request and a member of our team will contact you as soon as we can.

How to prevent future bot attacks with a bot mitigation solution

The best way to detect bot traffic and prevent it from attacking your site is to put a bot management system in place. The software continuously monitors your site for bot activity, and automatically blocks threats as they arise.

Netacea’s multi-layered approach is designed to detect all kinds of internet bot, including scalpers, scrapers, ticketing bots, and spambots. It can even detect unknown threats, giving you proactive protection against sophisticated attacks.

According to one global client, "Netacea has worked closely with us to help us understand the bot challenges we were previously unaware of, enabling us to significantly reduce infrastructure costs and fraud losses."

See how our bot mitigation solution can preemptively protect your site from bots here.

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