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
New Cold Boot Attack Gives Hackers the Keys to PCs, Macs
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  9/13/2018
Yahoo Class-Action Suits Set for Settlement
Dark Reading Staff 9/17/2018
RDP Ports Prove Hot Commodities on the Dark Web
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  9/17/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Flash Poll
How Data Breaches Affect the Enterprise
How Data Breaches Affect the Enterprise
This report, offers new data on the frequency of data breaches, the losses they cause, and the steps that organizations are taking to prevent them in the future. Read the report today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-3912
PUBLISHED: 2018-09-18
Bypassing password security vulnerability in McAfee Application and Change Control (MACC) 7.0.1 and 6.2.0 allows authenticated users to perform arbitrary command execution via a command-line utility.
CVE-2018-6690
PUBLISHED: 2018-09-18
Accessing, modifying, or executing executable files vulnerability in Microsoft Windows client in McAfee Application and Change Control (MACC) 8.0.0 Hotfix 4 and earlier allows authenticated users to execute arbitrary code via file transfer from external system.
CVE-2018-6693
PUBLISHED: 2018-09-18
An unprivileged user can delete arbitrary files on a Linux system running ENSLTP 10.5.1, 10.5.0, and 10.2.3 Hotfix 1246778 and earlier. By exploiting a time of check to time of use (TOCTOU) race condition during a specific scanning sequence, the unprivileged user is able to perform a privilege escal...
CVE-2018-16515
PUBLISHED: 2018-09-18
Matrix Synapse before 0.33.3.1 allows remote attackers to spoof events and possibly have unspecified other impacts by leveraging improper transaction and event signature validation.
CVE-2018-16794
PUBLISHED: 2018-09-18
Microsoft ADFS 4.0 Windows Server 2016 and previous (Active Directory Federation Services) has an SSRF vulnerability via the txtBoxEmail parameter in /adfs/ls.