Malicious bots make up nearly three-quarters of Internet traffic


In brief: Automated bots are a dime a dozen on the modern Internet, performing a variety of tasks ranging from helpful to harmful. What you may not realize is just how prolific bad bots are, and how much web traffic they account for.

According to fraud control platform Arkose Labs, a staggering 73 percent of Internet traffic to websites and apps measured between January 2023 and September 2023 was related to bots performing malicious activities like SMS toll fraud, scraping, and card testing. Talk about a waste of resources.

The top five bad bot categories in the third quarter included account takeover, scraping, fake account creation, account management, and in-product abuse (inventory hoarding, loyalty points abuse, and the like). These categories were mostly unchanged from Q2, with one exception: in-product abuse replaced card testing.

SMS toll fraud saw the largest quarter-over-quarter increase, up 2,141 percent in Q3 compared to Q2. Attacks on customer support call centers increased 160 percent, the firm observed. From Q1 to Q2, scraping saw the biggest increase at 432 percent.

Arkose Labs said intelligent bot attacks increased 291 percent from Q1 to Q2, and suggested that the use of sophisticated techniques like machine learning and AI to mimic human behavior could be to blame for the spike. When AI and tech fails, some criminals turn to human fraud farms to carry out attacks.

As Security Week correctly highlights, the rise in bad bot attacks implies their usage continues to be profitable for cybercriminals. AI is probably only going to make the matter worse moving forward, and the only solution seems to be to go after the money. If profit can be removed from the equation, the activity will cease.

It is worth noting that not all bots are nefarious. Plenty of handy bots populate the Internet and are used to perform helpful tasks like indexing websites for search engine or archival purposes, handling basic customer service tasks, and managing social media experiences.

Image credit: Mohamed Nohassi, Mojahid Mottakin


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