Technology

How Do Websites Detect and Block Bots?

The instance your presence registers online, someone wants something from you. The morbid outcome is the possibility of fraudsters, hackers, cybercriminals, and competitors using bots against your business. Your company needs measures to mitigate such risks and enjoy the relief of blocked bots.

Real-time anti-fraud tools recognize and block out non-human traffic and bots from automated scripts, malware, botnets, and invalid browsers, among others. This way, you can control illegitimate scrapers from accessing your website. If unchecked, malicious users can hinder the goal of your business of reaching a greater audience on the digital platform.

If you are on a lookout for more information about how websites block bots – do not hesitate, give a read!

Difference between good and bad bots

Bots are software applications or robots created and automated to accomplish specific tasks by repeating them. That description does not define whether such a bot has a positive or negative impact on a website.

Good bots keep the internet running. They perform tasks such as indexing a website in search engines, fetching RSS feeds, and monitoring the performance status of your website. They carry great benefit for your business, such as:

  • Discovering good deals on services and products
  • Collecting and analyzing data
  • Helping find jobs
  • Sending alerts when target websites and servers are down

Bad bots, on the other hand, launch DoS (Denial of Service) attacks that incapacitate your website. Additional types of attacks include:

  • DDoS attacks
  • Credential stuffing 
  • Sending spam content 
  • Harvesting email addresses 
  • Click fraud
  • Ad fraud

Some bot activities like inventory hoarding, shopping cart stuffing, and automated posting on social media platforms do not classify as malicious. They, however, need mitigation to eliminate annoyances for genuine website users.

Also, some malware poses a threat to your website visitors. They can intercept bank card data and user credentials. They then substitute the transaction of the recipient or carry out other transactions in the name of the user but without his knowledge.

How to detect bad bots

When scrutinizing your website for bad bot activity, consider checking on the following parameters to know which ones to block:

  • Recurrent hits from a specific IP

Of all the manifestations of bot activity, a vast number of requests from one IP address with a short period is the most common and easily detected. Such bots are sent to overwhelm your web server with useless traffic.

  • Reduction in server performance

When your server begins lagging, it could be that that’s stress caused by multiple bot requests within a short period. A slow website affects the user experience, keeps off potential buyers and eventually diminishes your revenue goals

  • Suspicious Geo-locations or IPs

Your business’ server allows you to monitor its visitors. Repeated hits from a location that your business does not cater for should raise red flags

  • Drop-in SEO ranking

You may not notice this right away, but it happens when bad bots steal content from your website and publish it on another website. Other than getting outranked by this dubiously published content, search engines could flag your content as plagiarized and penalize your business

  • Change in the language of requests

Bots will at times use a different language from your primary website language

  • A spike in traffic flow

Monitoring your company’s website statistics will show a gradual growth of traffic over time. What should alert you is a sudden spike in traffic on a specific day or particular week.

How to block bots

Following up on the process of detecting and blocking bad bots can be manual or automated. The method you choose will depend on the financial resources at your disposal, the level of sophistication of the DoS attack, and the skill of your business personnel.

One way of blocking bots is creating a robots.txt file in which you will type directives on the kind of traffic that your server should not allow. Beware that any typo on the file affects your SEO. This hinders appropriate search engines and legitimate users from accessing valuable content on your site.

Cloudflare collects data from the requests that flow through its network daily. It then conducts behavioral analysis and machine learning to identify likely harmful bot activity and blacklists the bots.

Consider too that an API is an effective and reliable bot detection and management tool. CAPTCHAs still work. However, the behavior of bots today enables bot modification to mimic the behavior of humans using smart devices and PCs. Indeed, bots have now advanced into the fourth generation, rendering traditional management weak, if not irrelevant.

In conclusion, fighting bot attacks requires skill and accuracy, especially in real-time detection of intent. Blocked bots cannot mess up with your website. Keep finding and blocking bad bots.

You need to update your software and knowledge regularly to protect your company sites and your clients from cybercriminals. Every day brings unique risks from the continually evolving bots tweaked to destroy websites that lack the backing of a secure infrastructure.

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Devashish Pandey

A man with dreams, and on a path to fulfill them!
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