You know that any report on bad bots is not going to be optimistic when it starts with a comparison to Pearl Harbor.
In fact, the fourth annual “Bad Bot Report” from anti-bot service Distil Networks is downright depressing. It continues to document the onslaught of hostile bots that are swarming over websites, login pages and anything else that pokes up its head online.
Pearl Harbor is mentioned because, early on the morning of December 7, 1941, a young radar operator saw a huge blip coming toward the naval base. But, because the tech was new and it was difficult to tell friendly planes from hostile ones, the warning was ignored until it was too late.
By comparison, the report said, there is a similar challenge in identifying bad bots from friendly ones, even as a major attack is underway.
Some bots wear white hats, such as search engine spiders, and they’re relatively easy to spot. Some wear gray hats, like those scraping findings on opinion-gathering sites or gathering competitive info like pricing and using it against you, without your permission. They are more difficult to recognize. Ninety-seven percent of sites with proprietary content or pricing were scraped involuntarily in 2016 by bots, according to Distil. From the report:
And black-hatted bots are the ones that want to steal from your site, take it over, crash it or impersonate users (16.1 percent of bad bots self-reported as mobile users). The bad ones accounted for an astounding one-fifth of all web traffic last year — almost seven percent more than in 2015.
Actually, the report says, 96 percent of sites with login pages experienced attacks last year from bad bots, defined as automated programs that carry out malicious activities.
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