Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Cloud

3/24/2016
08:00 AM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Majority Of Bad Bots Behave Like Humans

And for the first time since 2013, humans outnumber bad bots on the Web -- but that doesn't mean humans are beating bots, new study shows.

Nearly all bad bot traffic on the Web imitates human user behavior in some way or attempts to evade detection, while humans now encompass more than 54 percent of all website traffic after being outnumbered by bots the past two years.

New 2015 bot data from Distil Networks, which draws from its Hadoop cluster that includes 74 billion bot requests and data culled from its customer base shows, that bad bot traffic decreased from 22.78% to 18.61% from 2014 to 2015, while good bot traffic dropped from 36.32% to 27.04% during that period, putting human user traffic on top. But the jump in human Web traffic likely has much to do with a rise in new Internet users in China, India, and Indonesia, the report says.

“Bots still have the upper hand,” says Rami Essaid, CEO of Distil. “What we’ve seen in the past year is bots are more sophisticated in their tactics and more focused: the bad guys are lot less likely to throw [bots] on the Web to a more focused approach of ‘we’re going to narrow down the attack to a specific aspect of a Web app.’”

Distil’s bad bot data doesn’t include bots used in distributed denial-of-service attacks: it focuses on bots used for fraud and other badness, such as web scraping, data-mining for competitive purposes, personal and financial data-stealing, brute-force login, man-in-the middle attacks, digital ad fraud, spam, and transaction fraud.

These “advanced persistent” bots, as Distil calls the latest generation of bots, are able to execute JavaScript, load cookies, manipulate a mouse, imitate keystrokes, and other human actions. he says. “Bots are a lot more intelligent than ever before,” and often are embedded in the browser and more difficult to spot, he says. “They look like a real person.”

Essaid says he was surprised these sophisticated bots are now the majority. “Sixty-three percent can load JavaScript, for example,” he says. “That’s big ... If the majority are running JavaScript, they are skewing all of the marketing numbers,” for example, he says.

Nearly 40% can perform human-like behaviors and tasks, and 73% use multiple IP addresses to evade detection. Some 20% of these bots use more than 100 IP addresses.

Bots indeed are a boon for bad guys. In addition to bots that spread banking Trojans and other malicious code, online ad fraud via bots is booming, according to a recent report by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and WhiteOps. The average brand suffered $10 million in damages in 2015, and bots are expected to cause some $7.2 billion in losses to advertisers this year, up from $5 billion in 2014. This brand of bots tricks advertisers with phony clicks that appear to be from human users.

Distil’s data shows that midsized websites are hit most with bad bots: 26% of all Web traffic on sites with an Alexa ranking of 10,001 to 50,000, came from bad bots. Real-estate websites overall suffered a 300% jump in bad bot traffic, and 31% of all web traffic on digital publishing sites comes from bad bot activity.

The US ranks as the number one nation with bad bots (40%), followed by India and Israel. Maldives has the highest bad bots per online user, 526, followed by Israel (168) and Kyrgyzstan (94).

“It’s where the end bot is coming from, but not necessarily who’s puppeteering the bot. In Maldives, there’s a giant ring of people running botnets out of there, but [there’s one] that also controls bots worldwide,” Essaid says. And US and Indian users are are popular bot targets due to their higher-speed Internet connections, for example.

Related Content:

 

Interop 2016 Las VegasFind out more about security threats at Interop 2016, May 2-6, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas. Register today and receive an early bird discount of $200.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. 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
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Joe Stanganelli
50%
50%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
3/28/2016 | 9:41:28 AM
Lilability issues
I remember reading some time back that Google had data (i.e., knew) that at least one third of its ad clickers were bots -- and that this presented potential grounds for a fraud suit against the company by its advertising customers.
DevSecOps: The Answer to the Cloud Security Skills Gap
Lamont Orange, Chief Information Security Officer at Netskope,  11/15/2019
Attackers' Costs Increasing as Businesses Focus on Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  11/15/2019
TPM-Fail: What It Means & What to Do About It
Ari Singer, CTO at TrustPhi,  11/19/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: -when I told you that our cyber-defense was from another age
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-18858
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-20
CODESYS 3 web server before 3.5.15.20, as distributed with CODESYS Control runtime systems, has a Buffer Overflow.
CVE-2019-3466
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-20
The pg_ctlcluster script in postgresql-common in versions prior to 210 didn't drop privileges when creating socket/statistics temporary directories, which could result in local privilege escalation.
CVE-2010-4659
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-20
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in statusnet through 2010 in error message contents.
CVE-2019-4530
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-20
IBM Maximo Asset Management 7.6, 7.6.1, and 7.6.1.1 could allow an authenticated user to delete a record that they should not normally be able to. IBM X-Force ID: 165586.
CVE-2019-4561
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-20
IBM Security Identity Manager 6.0.0 could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on the system, caused by the deserialization of untrusted data. By persuading a victim to visit a specially crafted Web site, an attacker could exploit this vulnerability to execute arbitrary code on the syst...