Did you know that more than half of the traffic on the Internet are bots? Bots can play a beneficial role but can also be used to execute deadly attacks. Bots, which can be utilized to play for both sides, need to be a concern for Internet users– who in turn need to understand what a bot is capable of doing and ways to block malicious bots.
Typical examples of ‘good’ bots are sales chatbots for customer service or web crawlers used for maintaining and managing SEO. While there are good bots that enhance users’ or administrators’ convenience, there are also bots that are used for cyberattacks.
Hackers use bots to steal computers and IoT devices to form a botnet. A botnet is a large number of affected computers that are tied into a network to perform various cyberattacks. Such botnets can carry out credential stuffing and DDoS attacks.
The growth of new devices connecting to the internet in the last decade means hackers can now create bigger and more powerful botnets than ever before. In the 1990s, DDoS attacks were able to send out 100 requests per second, but today DDoS attacks send out 7,000 requests per second. In other words, DDoS attacks are getting faster, stronger, and more complex.
Five ways to block malicious bots
1. Recognize malicious bots
The first step of blocking malicious bots is to identify the bot as malicious by monitoring bot traffic.
Some website owners do not realize that their website has already become a target for malicious bots. One way to tell if you are being attacked by a bot is to check for a surge in any of the following numbers:
- page views
- bounce rates
- page duration
- traffic on a specific page
If you notice any irregularities in any of the websites like above, you may want to review your security policies and respond immediately.
2. Filter bot traffic using Google Analytics
Adding certain IPs to Google Analytics can easily filter basic bots from the legitimate traffic data entering your website. However, using GA has its limitations because Google can only identify well-known bots.
Adding specific IPs in Google Analytics is the first step in identifying malicious bots. The filter increases the accuracy of your website traffic analysis and allows you to compare total traffic versus filtered traffic, minus bots you identified with IPs, to identify suspicious spikes of traffic activity. However, it does not help to prevent malicious bots from accessing your website.
A CAPTCHA, short for ‘Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart’, can be added to your website login page to help distinguish actual human users from a computer. The CAPTCHA differentiates a person from a bot by requiring users to perform simple tasks such as selecting a specific image object or translating characters from an image. However, recently developed sophisticated bots may pass a CAPTCHA altogether.
The disadvantage to a CAPTCHA is that it adds a layer of inconvenience for users by requiring additional actions to access a site.
4. Monitor failed login history
When a botnet tries to hack in via credential stuffing, the number of failed login attempts increases dramatically. Consequently, website admins should immediately respond with increased security protocols in case of repeated suspicious login attempts.
Automatic settings can also be used to prevent malicious bots from repeating login attempts. For example, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), One-Time Passwords (OTP), or biometric authentication can be better ways to prevent those attacks.
5. Use a solution to block bots
In many cases, bots do not cause immediate damage to websites or webservers; however, leaving unauthorized bots unattended can require additional resources from IT and marketing personnel, or even lead to customer loss or data breaches.
In short, you shouldn’t underestimate bots. Investing in the ‘correct’ solutions is essential not only to prevent attacks such as credential stuffing and DDoS attacks but also to keep your company and customers safe.
Cloudbric’s logic-based smart web application protection is a fully automated solution. With advanced DDoS protection included, it actively blocks L3, L4, and L7 DDoS attacks up to 40Tbps. Learn more.