Bot Traffic: The uninvited guests on your website - how to combat the risk of malicious bots.

Understand & Transform
January 17, 2023

In this digital age, the use of bots by third-party applications on websites is becoming increasingly popular as businesses look to automate tasks and create a smoother user experience. But bots can be used for good and evil! Yep, the same bots that help us can also be used maliciously in an effort to manipulate website traffic or gain access to sensitive information. As a website owner, it’s essential to be aware of what bot traffic is and what steps you can take to protect your site from malicious bot activity.

Recently we noticed an increase in bot traffic on our client's websites, and we know that can be alarming, so we wanted to give you a better idea of what could be going on. So, whether you're a tech-savvy website owner or just looking to learn more about the mysterious world of bots, here’s what you need to know…

What Even Is a Bot?

Bots may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but they're actually a genuine and vital part of the internet. Website or internet bots are automated programs that perform a task. They can be used to automate repetitive tasks, like gathering information from websites, posting content on social media sites, or even performing simple actions like clicking a link. They’re also known as web crawlers, spiders, and robots.

But not all bots are created equal – some are good, and some are bad.

The Difference Between Good Bots and Bad Bots.

Good bots refer to those that are beneficial to a website or online service. For example, they help to enhance user experience through tasks such as indexing content to improve search engine optimisation (SEO). They’re often used for analytics purposes, allowing businesses to track and analyse website usage data to improve their services accordingly. Googlebot is an example of a good bot that crawls webpages to index them for its own search engine results page (SERP).

Bad bots, on the other hand, can have a major impact on the performance of a website and can even cause loss of service in some cases. Bad bots are often used for malicious activities such as scraping content, harvesting data, launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, injecting malware into web pages and more. All of these activities put an extra strain on the server and can lead to decreased performance or even complete downtime.

Unfortunately, it's unpredictable as to whether a bot will choose your website for interference, and it’s not due to any specific part of the website build or hosting environment. The good news is that we can put some measures in place to minimise malicious activity.

Prevention from Malicious Bot Traffic.

Although bots may present some challenges, there are several measures we can take to ensure your website is in the best shape.

  • CDN (Content Delivery Network) - this prevents bot attacks on websites by providing an extra layer of protection. A CDN can detect bot activity and block malicious requests before they reach the origin server. Implementing a CDN has a range of other benefits which helps improve website performance by caching static content such as images, JavaScript, and CSS files, which reduces the load on the origin server.
  • Restricting Access - If we can identify the IP address that a bot attack is coming from, we can manually limit access by IP address or email address so that only authorised personnel to have access.
  • Implementing Anti-bot software - this will help detect any suspicious bot activity on our network and alert us if necessary. These solutions utilise advanced technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and behavioural analysis to identify and block unwanted bots before they reach a website.
  • Utilising Captchas - these will help distinguish between real users and automated programs when logging into the CMS or filling out forms on your website.

Some other website security best practices are:

  • Keeping your CMS and software up to date - ensuring all software is updated with the latest security patches can reduce the risk of attack.
  • Developing Strong Password Policies - make sure you have a strong password policy. We can even implement 2FA on your website to help with website security.
  • Educating Employees - train your staff on password policies and how best to protect against cyber threats will go a long way towards preventing attacks from occurring in the first place.

While bots are unpredictable, by implementing precautions we can help you significantly reduce the risk posed by bot traffic entering your networks.

If you ever experience an unexpected spike in traffic or want to strengthen your website's security, give us a call or drop us an email to get the ball rolling. Terabyte is always here for you!

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