Cloud

3/27/2018
12:35 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Bad Bots Increasingly Hide Out in Cloud Data Centers

Humans accounted for nearly 58% of website traffic in 2017 -- the rest were bad and good bots.

Bots became a household term last year in the wake of Russian election-meddling in the US and their inordinate presence on social media platforms. The population of these malicious bots also grew by nearly 10% last year, accounting for one-fifth of all website traffic.

So-called bad bots also execute online fraud, data theft, and distributed denial-of-service attacks, and despite more awareness as well as moves by Twitter and others to purge them, they continue to dog e-commerce and evolve their tactics to evade detection, according to a new analysis of bot activity by Distil Networks that studied hundreds of billions of bad bot requests on thousands of websites.

Humans accounted for nearly 58% of website traffic in 2017, with the rest bad bots (21.46%) and good bots (20.74%). Good bots include tools like search engine crawlers, while bad bots are everything from trolls to illicit data-scraping tools and proxies for cybercrime. Most bad bots live on gambling (53.1%) and airline (43.9%) websites, and most (83.2%) pose as Web browser-users, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari, and 10.4% as mobile browsers (Safari, Android, and Opera).

The biggest shift in 2017 was bots hiding out in data centers: some 82.7% are now operating out of cloud-based accounts versus 60.1% in 2016, the data shows.

Anna Westelius, senior director of security research at Distil, says bad bots are waging credential-stuffing attacks en masse. While account takeover attacks on average occur two to three times per month, after a data breach occurs, account takeover attacks increase threefold, according to Distil's data.

"They are trying them wherever they can," Westelius says of the stolen credentials.

They're also mimicking human behavior more convincingly, by executing JavaScript like a browser, or faking mouse movements. "A lot of the time, bad bots are utilizing human connections, like human smartphone connections," Westelius says. "A lot of these are malware-related botnets" that want to appear as human as possible in their communications and behaviors, she says.

Distil found that 5.8% of all mobile devices on cellular networks are used in bad bot attacks. These bots are considered the most advanced or sophisticated because they are less likely to get detected. Overall, 74% of bad bot traffic today is sophisticated or moderately sophisticated, the report says.

But operating out of cloud data centers is all the rage for bot runners now. It's inexpensive to spin up a cloud server, for example, and it appears legit. "Hosting provides really offer them a legal way to highly distribute themselves. It's cheap and accessible," Westelius says.

The move to the cloud coincided with a decrease in residential bot traffic, according to Distil. "The economics and success of using low-cost cloud data centers probably explains why there was a drop in the amount of traffic from residential ISPs, falling from 30.5% to 14.8% in 2017," the report said.

Related Content:

 Interop ITX 2018

Join Dark Reading LIVE for an intensive Security Pro Summit at Interop ITX and learn from the industry’s most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the agenda here.Register with Promo Code DR200 and save $200.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Valentine's Emails Laced with Gandcrab Ransomware
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/14/2019
High Stress Levels Impacting CISOs Physically, Mentally
Jai Vijayan, Freelance writer,  2/14/2019
Mozilla, Internet Society and Others Pressure Retailers to Demand Secure IoT Products
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  2/14/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
5 Emerging Cyber Threats to Watch for in 2019
Online attackers are constantly developing new, innovative ways to break into the enterprise. This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at five emerging attack trends and exploits your security team should look out for, along with helpful recommendations on how you can prevent your organization from falling victim.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Data breach fears and the need to comply with regulations such as GDPR are two major drivers increased spending on security products and technologies. But other factors are contributing to the trend as well. Find out more about how enterprises are attacking the cybersecurity problem by reading our report today.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-5780
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-19
Insufficient restrictions on what can be done with Apple Events in Google Chrome on macOS prior to 72.0.3626.81 allowed a local attacker to execute JavaScript via Apple Events.
CVE-2019-5781
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-19
Incorrect handling of a confusable character in Omnibox in Google Chrome prior to 72.0.3626.81 allowed a remote attacker to spoof the contents of the Omnibox (URL bar) via a crafted domain name.
CVE-2019-5782
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-19
Incorrect optimization assumptions in V8 in Google Chrome prior to 72.0.3626.81 allowed a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code inside a sandbox via a crafted HTML page.
CVE-2019-5783
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-19
Missing URI encoding of untrusted input in DevTools in Google Chrome prior to 72.0.3626.81 allowed a remote attacker to perform a Dangling Markup Injection attack via a crafted HTML page.
CVE-2019-5766
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-19
Incorrect handling of origin taint checking in Canvas in Google Chrome prior to 72.0.3626.81 allowed a remote attacker to leak cross-origin data via a crafted HTML page.