Over 40% of the internet traffic today is bot-driven. While there are different types of bots for various purposes, much of the bot traffic comes from malicious ones. Good bots like Bingbot and Googlebot help the two main search engines index your site. They increase your chances of being found by potential clients. Conversely, bad bots cause all sorts of damage to your business and website. Therefore, to protect your business or website, you must ensure that you block the bad bots completely. The mechanism used should allow the good bots to continue operating. Bad bots affect e-Commerce, real Estate, booking, and ticketing sites. In this post, we will consider the measures you can undertake to block bots from your website.
What are bots?
Bots are automated scripts or software programs designed to perform repetitive and simple tasks online. A key feature is that bots perform various tasks at a higher speed compared to human beings. They do not get fatigued and can work 24/7 without a rest or a break. As we have seen above, there are two categories of bots, the good bots and the bad bots. Ordinarily, Good bots belong to legitimate companies like Microsoft and Google. Good bots also do not hide their identities and are disciplined (follow the rules set out in the robots.txt file).
On the other hand, bad bots tend to disguise themselves as humans. They end up causing all manner of problems. In other attacks like DDoS attacks, the attacker combines many bots to form a botnet. They then use the botnets to launch attacks on the online infrastructure. Bad bots operate stealthily. Detecting them is very difficult, and that is why you need to use various mechanisms to block them before they reach your site. Prevention is always better than cure.
The effects of bots on your online presence
Do bots have any impacts on your online presence? The short answer is yes. However, these impacts depend on the type of bot. A malicious bot has devastating impacts, while a good bot improves your presence. Many good bots are designed to chat with customers, rank or index your website in the search engine, help the employees in various tasks, among other beneficial activities within the company.
On the other hand, malicious bots are just that, malicious. They are designed to perform several malicious activities like credential stuffing and brute force attacks. The following are some of the reasons why you should block malicious bots:
They steal sensitive data
Scraper bots steal content from your website without your authorization and reuse it somewhere else. The scalpers can at worst steal sensitive user information or proprietary data from your website. If the proprietary information falls in the hands of your competitor, they can drive you out of business. Additionally, the owners of the stolen sensitive information may file lawsuits, which may leave you open to legal fines and penalties. In the end, bad bots can seriously damage your reputation.
Slow the speed of your site
The other reason to block bots is that they lower the speed of your website. As we said above, bots work at a very high rate. Therefore, they end up draining the resources like bandwidth on your server. They end up straining your server’s performance. People do not like browsing on slow websites. Therefore, the bots can also cause a significant drop in your site’s organic traffic, which affects its SEO performance.
Bot traffic leads to skewed analytics
The other reason to block bots on your site is that their traffic skews the analytics. As we have said in previous instances, bot traffic accounts for a sizable amount of traffic online. Things like ads are paid per the number of views. Bot traffic can deceive you that you have many viewers while it is not organic traffic.
Other reasons include putting you at a disadvantage competition-wise and spamming your site.
How can you block bots from your website?
As we have seen above, bad bots have adverse impacts on online infrastructure. Therefore, you have to ensure that you follow the correct measures to block the bots. These include methods like:
Using hidden fields
Fake registrations and form spamming are significant problems for online businesses that use forms for genuine customer interactions and registrations. In such a case, a dummy or hidden field can help block the bots to an extent. The hidden entry acts as a trap. Since human beings cannot see the field, they cannot fill the field. On the other hand, bots typically fill every available field. Therefore, you can easily distinguish between a bot and organic traffic. However, sophisticated and intelligent scrappers can bypass the hidden field and proceed with their malicious activities.
Do you run an internet-based business that has a streamlined target audience? The use of CAPTCHA can help you block bots before they perform various malicious activities on your website. Although CAPTCHAs are not entirely effective, they help deter basic bots. However, implementing a CAPTCHA solution can be detrimental to the user experience.
Examining the log files
Examining the log files can be of help in the identification and blocking of the bots partially. Every request that a client makes to the server or the website is recorded on the log files. The log files can help you identify the bot by tracing its origin. Examining the logs, you can see every request’s IP address and how many hits it made on your site. Are there many hits from one IP address or many IPs within a short period? If so, that is undoubtedly a bot, and you should block it. However, this may not necessarily mean that you are blocking a malicious bot. The IP might belong to a public network, and you could be blocking legitimate users.
Using a bot management solution
As technology advances, cybercriminals also develop more sophisticated mechanisms and hacking methods. They are highly intelligent and sophisticated to be blocked by CAPTCHA for examining the log files. Therefore, the best way to block the bots is by using a bot management solution. They use machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect and analyze the bot’s behaviors. They can perform real-time bot detection, analysis, and mitigation. Therefore, bot management solutions are the best way to block bots.
Investing in a bot management solution is the best way to block bots. While some of them are good, the lion’s share of online traffic comes from malicious bots. As we have seen above, bad bots have many effects on a business or an organization. Therefore, blocking them is critical to the success of your online business.