Bot Management Definition, Strategies & Best Practices
Bot management is necessary to filter traffic and provide security on and for websites. A bot manager helps to allow the good bots to work, which can direct traffic more efficiently, while restricting access for malicious bots that slow things down and can steal data. Effective bot management technology can make your site more secure by stopping malicious bots from taking over accounts, committing fraud, scraping protected content, and overloading servers to slow things down.
What is bot management?
Bot management can help to determine which bots are helpful and which are harmful, as it aims to provide security to a website. There are both good and bad bots out there. Bot is short for robot. These are automated computer programs working like humans. Bots are designed to perform a multitude of tasks on the internet without needing human interaction to do so. These bots make up a large chunk of traffic on the internet. Bot management works to detect bad, or malicious, bots while aiding the effectiveness of the good and necessary bots. Bots can act as automated customer services tools performing chat functions to help clients find answers when live employees are unavailable, for example. They can also speed up search functions on the internet to catalogue items or find the best prices. Malicious bots, on the other hand, serve to steal data, commit fraud, and slow down internet functions.
What does a bot manager do?
A good bot manager can control the access of bots to a site and help to keep malicious bots from gaining access while using good bots to enhance customer and employee experiences. Bots are necessary, and just blocking all non-human traffic to a site is counterproductive. Bots can speed up search functions and provide more traffic to a site, which can enhance productivity and revenue. It is equally important to secure sites against malicious bots and security breaches. A good bot manager can:
- Analyze bot behavior.
- Add good bots to allow lists.
- Deny malicious bots access to restricted or certain content.
- Differentiate between human and bot visitors.
- Identify the reputation of the bot visitor.
- Recognize bot IP addresses of origin and block those with negative IP reputations.
- Use methods to challenge and weed out bots.
- Set rate limits on bots overusing services.
- Give bots alternative content.
How bot management works
Bot managers are constantly evolving to keep up with both users and attackers. A manager bot needs to be able to tell the difference between a helpful bot and a harmful one. The three main bot management approaches are as follows:
- Static: This is a passive technique using static analysis tools to identify web requests and header information that active and known malicious bots are reported to use. This technique is effective on weeding out bad bots that are already recorded and known.
- Behavioral: A bot manager can learn how to evaluate a user’s, or good bot’s, patterns to verify identity and distinguish between human users, good bots, and malicious bots. Users tend to use similar methods of accessing the internet and using services. These behaviors can be logged to authenticate the identity of the person over a bot.
Types of attacks stopped
In 2020, a quarter of all internet traffic came from bad bots, according to the 8th Annual Bad Bot Report. No industry is safe from bad bots, either. These are the top five industries hit with the highest amount of bad bot traffic:
- Telecom and ISPs
- Computing and IT
- Business Services
Bot management can help to stop and prevent fraud and cybercriminal attacks through malicious bots. An effective bot manager can stop the following attacks:
- DDoS attacks: Distributed denial-of-services attacks spam servers and overwhelm bandwidth, which can make services, resources, and applications slow to load or unavailable completely. DDoS attacks use IoT (Internet of Things) devices or individual computers to run these bots, often through a network of bots called a botnet.
- Credit card fraud: Bots can be used to open new and fraudulent credit and gift card accounts by using brute force. Bots can also help to “test” credit card information that has been stolen by making several small purchases that will often go unnoticed. Once verified by the bots, cybercriminals can use the stolen information for larger purchases.
- Credential stuffing: Once credentials have been leaked or stolen, often in the form of lists, bots can automatically seek to test these until one works. Users often use the same credentials for more than one account, which can then allow the bot to systematically test them until gaining access and taking over a user’s account through brute force.
- Web scraping/data scraping: Bots can be used to work in the background, crawling through and scanning for restricted and proprietary information that is often stored on ecommerce portals and websites. In this way, bots can steal the information to gain access to secure data.
- Intelligence harvesting: In much the same way as web scraping, bots can scan and crawl through social media, forums, and websites to find personal information about users. This information can then be used in a phishing attack that appears to come from a legitimate source but tricks a user into compromising confidential information, including login and password credentials.
- Spam content: Bots can be used to send spam messages all over the internet to create fake user accounts, scrape contact information, and operate stolen social media accounts. Spam bots can steal information, spread specific hostile content, or spread malware.
- Ad/click fraud: Websites and platforms often use ads or hyperlinks to track users and the way they interact with ads, apps, or websites. Bots can be used to imitate legitimate visitors to skew this data and often impact the bottom line of competitors.
Importance of bot management
Bot management solutions can offer holistic protection when they are integrated within the web application and API protection (WAAP), Security Magazine reports. Since bots are increasingly sophisticated, good bot management services can help to protect websites and users alike. Bot management should provide the following:
- Good solution criteria: Bot management needs to work in the background to filter out bad bots while increasing the effectiveness of good ones.
- Effectiveness: A bot manager will need to be able to identify good and bad bots, block malicious bots, and do so even with bots that are able to bypass standard detection methods
- Efficiency: Bots need to be filtered through several levels while still allowing for a high level of performance and speed for the user, using scrubbing techniques in real time.
- Detection ability: Bots are often able to mimic human behavior, and bot managers need to be able to detect malicious bots regardless of their sophistication.
- Control: Bot management needs to be able to determine which bots are good and bad while also being able to control them. For example, returning falsified data to a malicious bot can defeat its malicious purpose and also offer a counterstrike.
What Is a Bot? Understanding the Good and Bad. (April 2021). Spectrum News.
Bad Bot Report 2021: The Pandemic of the Internet. (April 2021). Imperva.
A Summer of Cybercrime Reveals Evolving Bot Threats. (August 2021). Security Magazine.