Fraudulent 'Bot-driven' College Enrollment up 50%, New Study Finds


May 11, 2022

2 Min Read


NEW YORK, May 11, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Six months after news broke about fake, 'bot-driven' student college enrollment in California's community colleges, global cybersecurity company CHEQ released new data suggesting that bot traffic on higher education websites continues to rise.

In December of 2021, the LA Times reported that a Pierce College professor discovered many of those registering for her classes online were bots rather than legitimately enrolled students. During that time, The California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office estimated that about 1 in 5 applications was "malicious and bot-related."

CHEQ's data tells a similar story, indicating that the issue of bot traffic in online higher education may be even larger than originally estimated. Specifically, throughout 2021, bot traffic coming from organic and direct sources hovered around 30%. So far in 2022, that number has jumped to 45% - showing a 50% overall increase. The bot traffic discovered includes malicious scrapers and web crawlers, automation tools, headless browsers and botnets. The data was collected as part of a global study into fake user and bot traffic trends online, conducted across over 50,000 websites.

"Like with many other industries, higher-education is increasingly transitioning to online models of registration, enrollment, payment and virtual classrooms, opening the door to more online fraud and increased exposure to the Fake Web" said Guy Tytuniovich, CHEQ's CEO. "When you also factor in the sheer size of the economy around higher-education, you realize why it's an appealing target for fraudsters and scammers, as we see in our most recent data."

Through analyzing their data, CHEQ has found that higher education bot traffic is more common than bot traffic in many other industries. When it comes to organic and direct traffic, the gaming industry typically sees Invalid Traffic (IVT) rates of 15%, and the insurance industry sees 18%. This indicates that the education sector has consistently been a target for fraudulent activity, and may continue to see increases in attacks from fake users.

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