If you manage a website or online business of any sort, there are many ways you’re being targeted by hackers. By using various types of hacking bots, there are a growing array of security flaws that you might experience.
In this post we’ll take a look at the hacking bots that you might encounter. And we’ll also look at some methods to minimise your exposure to them, and even block them.
1. Website scrapers
These annoying bots trawl your site for useful information, which might be hijacked by hackers. Some of them will collect information such as emails or contact details, and others might just copy and paste your content – which is called content scraping.
Content scrapers find your content and repurpose it elsewhere. The problem is that they can make it look like your website content is plagiarised, which can earn you anything from a Google penalty to a lowered search engine ranking.
Although these aren’t necessarily hacking tools, they can be used to cause your site damage.
2. Social media bots
As the currency of social media is followers and likes, there is a booming industry in social media bots. Instead of hacking, these social media bots can be used to enter your marketing funnel, creating fake leads, generating shopping baskets and inflating your abandonment rate.
Social media bots also have an impact on your paid ad campaigns. In fact, mobile app ad fraud is a growing and expensive problem. In 2021, it’s estimated that ad fraud cost marketers at least $45 billion.
You already know that spambots are annoying. All that email spam for medication (anyone for c1alis?), financial opportunities (your Nigerian uncle left you $50 million in his will??) and horny housewives usually goes straight into your spam box.
But these sneaky spambots can also be used for more than just filling up your inbox. They can flood your website with comments, commit various forms of hacking such SQL injection and link insertion and more.
In fact, spambots come in a number of flavours and can be seriously damaging to your website and your marketing campaigns. Find out more about how spambots work here.
Ever wonder how tickets are sold out online in seconds? Or how so many people bought your limited edition product in just a few minutes? That will be scalper bots.
These bots are used to purchase anything online for resellers to profit from. It’s estimated that for some events, 95% of ticket purchases go to scalpers.
For your business, this might mean that your system is overloaded and shuts down. And it also means that your genuine customers lose out on your best value products.
5. Payment fraud bots
Bots are capable of processing hundreds of payment cards per minute. This means that your site can be used to process stolen or hacked payment details, resulting in chargebacks or even penalties from card issuers.
These hacking bots also generate fake accounts, inflate your cart abandonment and fraudulently purchase inventory. In short, they can be a serious problem for any business running an online store.
6. Click bots
Although people think of hacking bots as the type of bots that get into your website and cause damage, there are also bots that are designed to steal your money. Click bots are often used for ad fraud, which is when bots inflate clicks on your paid campaigns for the benefit of fraudulent publishers.
These click bots can also be used in other forms of cyber attack, such as DDoS – as we shall see.
7. DDoS bots
The DDoS or distributed denial of service is a modern bot threat that can be hard to block. The tricky thing is that there is no one type of bot used for DDoS. Click bots, spam bots, payment fraud bots and web scrapers can all be used to overload a network and carry out all kinds of hacking activities.
A DDoS attack can also last an indefinite amount of time, from a few minutes to days….
Protecting your business
The awareness of the threats from hacking bots has become well known in recent years, and increasingly businesses will invest in bot prevention packages.
There are a number of bot prevention solutions on the market, some of which specialise in certain types of protection. Whatever your business, if you depend on the internet for your income, and specifically your website, then you should invest in some form of bot protection.
Bot prevention tools include:
This is just a small selection of the growing bot fraud prevention solutions on the market. The one you choose will depend on your market and your exposure to the risk of hacking bots.