With bots accounting for nearly half of all web traffic, bots should be a major concern for all organizations. While good bots may scan your website for positive purposes like SEO, unfortunately not all bots are good, and some can hurt your site and ultimately your business. In a way, hacking groups are like an organized business. They, too, harness the power of automation to speed up tasks — like cyber attacks. For this reason, we see the prevalence of automated bot programs in which hackers don’t even have to lift a finger. Instead, they use these programs to run automated tasks and scripts to compromise websites and spread malware, for example.
If your website is filled with unpatched vulnerabilities, you are inviting the bad bots in and possibly giving them access to the login page where they can sniff around for sensitive data to utilize for malicious purposes. In the blog post “Consequences of a Website Infection That You May Not Know About,” Cloudbric revealed what post-infection caused by bots and other kinds of cyber attacks could do to your website, but this blog post will take it a step further and probe through the ways in which a business may be directly affected. Here are five ways bots can have a negative impact:
1) Bots mess with your analytics
While you might get excited when you see a sudden spike in your web traffic through one of your analytics platforms like Google Analytics, these visits may likely be bots. This is because the number of visitors to your website don’t tell the whole the story: for instance, when session times are 0 seconds, chances are the visits aren’t legitimate. Because bots have the potential to skew your analytics, it becomes impossible to make solid data-driven decisions — be it for evaluating the effectiveness of marketing campaigns or for important budget allocations. This is particularly bad for businesses in both the short-term and long-term. Fortunately, there are ways to filter out distortion from bot traffic, especially if you’re using Google Analytics.
2) Bots contribute to botnets and DDoS attacks
When bots come together they can turn into a force to be reckoned with. Multiple bots with the ability to massively infect networks of computers with malware and effectively take control of them form what is known as a botnet. When a website is hit by a botnet, too many requests are being made, and the website is typically knocked offline. As many businesses are well-aware of, the impact of downtime can be extremely costly, as it includes the costs of mitigating the attack, losing customers, and repairing a damaged reputation.
3) Bots can make your website slower and affect performance
When your website is receiving too much traffic all at once, especially if they come from illegitimate users like bots, the load time and overall performance of your website can be severely impacted. This can be particularly frustrating to users who are visiting your site for the first time, affecting the customer experience. Bots affect the way your visitors interact with your website, which can be equally frustrating for any campaigns you may have set up on your site.
4) Bots can take over your account
Hackers can use an army of automated bots to take over online accounts by obtaining the login credentials of websites. These bots then target the login page and send over thousands of login attempts, all coming from different IP addresses in just a few hours. Your website is left extremely vulnerable, especially if you have a weak password or are not implementing 2FA or MFA. Just recently, the popular Coinhive DNS server got hacked after the company reused an old password. In cases like this, sophisticated bots can be trained to attempt old passwords as well as new ones.
5) Bots can lead to monetary loss
Over time bots will incur some kind of cost to your business whether you realize it or not. Considering the reasons previously stated, potential monetary loss is very likely especially when your website is running slow, under an attack, or overtaken by a bot. Downtime costs, for example, incurred from DDoS attacks are estimated to range from $20,000 to $100,000 per hour.
Bad bots are used by hackers who are out to steal sensitive data and make gains from your website. Therefore, prevention is the only way websites can be safe from the negative impacts bots can have. Luckily, services like Cloudbric can prevent all this by blocking bots and malicious traffic from reaching your site, preserving your website’s performance. To learn more about other attacks agents check out this blog post or visit Cloudbric’s demo page to get started!