If your business is under attack from multiple users who all perform the same task, bots are likely to be involved.
In this post, we’ll break down different bot attacks, why they target you, and, of course, how to protect yourself.
Why Is Bot Detection Important?
Bot attacks take on many forms, such as DDoS attacks or multi-accounting. Detecting bots can help reduce fraud, lower chargeback rates and save on cybersecurity costs – as well as protect your user and employee accounts.
Why Do Criminals Use Bots and Botnets?
Bots are computer programs designed to run autonomously. More importantly, they can automate repetitive tasks that would otherwise take too much time to perform manually.
Whenever fraudsters or cybercriminals need to replicate the same actions hundreds, thousands, or millions of times, they rely on bots, or botnets (malware-infected computers linked together) to perform their dirty work.
According to the Spamhaus Project, India currently leads with the number of botnets (665710), closely followed by China and the US.
What Kind of Attacks Can Bot Detection Software Prevent?
While there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to bot detection software, the key use cases will be to prevent the following attacks:
A DDoS attack (distributed denial-of-service) attack is a malicious action that aims to disrupt a targeted website by overwhelming it.
It’s rarely possible to coordinate attacks on such a scale manually, which is why bots and botnets are employed to scale the number of actions until the server, service or network cannot deal with it any longer.
As reported by Corero, a single DDoS attack can cost a company up to $50,000 in lost revenue and 87% of queried companies expressed concern about this particular type of threat. It’s also worth noting that DDoS attacks have increased since IPv6 became a new Internet standard.
Phishing attacks are often launched with the purpose of extracting key information from an organization’s employees or users.
Spam campaigns and mass SMS campaigns, for instance, are only possible to automate with bots – as the manual workload would be too heavy for an attack with such a low success rate.
According to Comparitech, the industries most targeted by phishing attacks are SaaS and Webmail companies, closely followed by financial institutions and payment companies.
Brute Force Attacks / Credential Stuffing
Brute force attacks are performed with software (bots) that go through entire lists of passwords to try to crack user login details. Sometimes the passwords are generated programmatically, other times they are taken from leaked databases (credential stuffing).
This is a growing concern as the amount of data leaked on darknet and clearnet websites shows no signs of slowing down. Every year brings a new record data breach, with billions of account details available online for fraudsters to exploit.
As more and more companies offer referral bonuses and promos for new signups, fraudsters use bots to automate the process and reap the rewards. It is damaging for your marketing, analytics, and could open the door to more fraud attacks in the future.
Here is an infographic explaining how bonus abuse works in iGaming, for instance.
Speaking of iGaming… Online gambling has some very specific bot problems, where criminals use software to automatically place bets and play certain games, such as online poker.
In 2020, for instance, a data leak exposed one of the biggest poker botnets rings ever identified after it played 60,000 sessions on 50 sites and earned up to $3M.
Events and ticketing companies have to control who buys the tickets. Fraudsters can use bots to automatically buy all of them before reselling them for a higher price (scalping).
This is terrible for your business reputation, which is why, in 2017, Ticketmaster, one of the largest online ticket sellers, filed a lawsuit against Prestige Entertainment for their continued use of scalper bots.
Fake Reviews / Posts / Comments
Any kind of peer-reviewed website can be targeted by bots for a variety of reasons. This damages your business reputation and can make life harder for legitimate visitors.
Scraping is the practice of automatically gathering data from other online sources. It’s a problem in online retail, for instance, where scraper bots automatically gather product prices before sending them to your competitors so that they may undercut you.
Any kind of marketing technique that relies on heavy traffic (pay per click, pay per lead, pay per impression) can be exploited if the traffic is made up of bots. Once again, this means your marketing spend isn’t going as far, and you have to deal with junk traffic, fraudulent affiliates, and potentially damaging business relationships.
You can read more about SEON and affiliate marketing fraud detection here.
What Must Bot Detection Software Do?
Broadly speaking, there are three goals a good bot detection software should meet:
- Monitoring: this can be websites, networks, or applications
- Identifying bots: or any malicious bot activity
- Preventing access: or blocking actions performed by botnets.
In cybersecurity, many botnet detection strategies revolve around data packet analysis, which can identify irregularities in data transmission to a server.
In fraud prevention and detection, a combination of risk rules will help highlight suspicious bot activity, which can then automatically be blocked or reviewed.
7 Bot Detection Software Solutions
Disclaimer: Everything written about the companies mentioned in this article was gleaned from online research including user reviews. We did not have time to manually test all the tools. However, we ensured the information was correct as of Fall 2021. Feel free to contact us to request an update/correction.
SEON – Real-Time Risk Scoring and Data Enrichment
SEON is first and foremost a fraud detection software, but it’s easy to see how its features can work perfectly for bot detection. This is all thanks to its real-time monitoring, which allows risk teams to get a better live understanding of their website traffic, and a combination of powerful risk scoring.
Most of the heavy lifting for bot detection is done via two modules, IP analysis, and Device Fingerprinting. These tools allow you to understand how users connect to your site and to get an idea of their online behavior. This is the perfect way to answer questions such as:
- Has this user performed the same task repeatedly?
- Have they previously appeared with a similar browser/device configuration?
- Is there any suspicious data (blacklisted IP addresses, VPN use, emulator use, etc.)
- Can we spot similar configurations with other users (potential botnet)?
- Does the user appear to be using a headless version of Chrome?
- Or an emulator such as Selenium?
With clear risk scores and dynamic friction, you get complete bot mitigation features to allow, decline or review bot traffic.
- Complete fraud prevention solution: not just for bots, but also multi-accounting, chargeback fraud, and other malicious attacks
- Reverse social media lookup: check signals from 35+ social media networks to confirm whether you’re dealing with real users or not.
- Velocity rules: highlight suspicious login attempts (credential stuffing) by looking at how often someone tries to log in, for instance.
- Device Fingerprinting with suspicious browser detection: bot activity might use browser spoofing to hide, but we’re constantly updating our rules based on our data to spot browsers associated with bad actors.
- Flexible and modular: few other providers on the market offer tools that can be adapted to so many verticals, from iGaming poker bot detection to account takeover protection.
- Not cybersecurity specific: if you need DDoS protection, for instance, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
- Starts at 99€ / month ($115)
Choose SEON if:
- You want to combine bot detection with fraud prevention and powerful risk management features.
DataDome – Online Store and Classifieds Bot Protection
DataDome, which calls itself the #1 SaaS bot protection solution for e-commerce and classified ads businesses, offers dashboards and real-time alerting to keep an eye on your traffic.
You can of course adjust and filter actions to manually fight against bot activity, even allowing you to segment bots into good bots, bad bots, and monetization bots. In the bad bots section, the software will prevent DDoS attacks, SQL injections, and scraping.
DataDome is compatible with every web infrastructure technology, multi-cloud, and even multi CDN setups. At the time of writing, the company protects 10 000+ eCommerce and classified domains worldwide, including TripAdvisor, the New York Times, and BlaBlaCar.
- Multiple bot attack prevention: DataDome protects against a pretty exhaustive list of potential bot attacks.
- Great for classified ads: few other bot detection software providers specialize in helping reduce fraudulent postings, reviews, and feedback.
- Pricey: unless you’re an enterprise client, DataDome’s pricing is at the unaffordable end of the spectrum.
- Starts at $1590 per month, or $1190 billed annually.
Choose DataDome if:
- You need to protect your classifieds site or an online store that allows reviews and comments.
Arkose Labs – 100% Guaranteed Bot Attack Detection
When it comes to bot detection software, few companies can claim to be as confident as Arkose Labs. They even include a 100% bot detection guarantee as part of their service agreement.
The company says it can identify, block and monitor high-volume attacks, low and slow attacks, and even hybrid attacks that combine bots and human fraud farms to bypass your security checks. To do so, it doesn’t rely on static rules or even risk scoring, but rather real-time intelligence, rich analytics, and step-up challenges to eliminate the ROI of bot fraud.
Arkose Labs pros:
- Unique detection method: Arkose Labs doesn’t rely on risk scoring or filtering rules.
- 100% guarantee SLA: the company has such confidence in its ability to mitigate bot traffic that it’s part of their service agreement.
Arkose Labs cons:
- Incentive to block legitimate users: the downside of a 100% guarantee is that it can make Arkose Labs overly zealous with false positives.
Arkose Labs pricing:
- Available from the sales team.
Choose Arkose Labs if:
- You want to test the limits of their 100% bot detection SLA.
Cloudflare – Tools for Faster, Safer Websites
As one of the biggest DNS (domain name systems) and CDN (content delivery network) operating on the Internet, Cloudflare needs little introduction these days.
What not many people realize, however, is that their service protects internet properties from malicious activity such as malicious bots and DDoS attacks.
If you’re already using Cloudflare (or are launching a new venture), it’s a very attractive proposition, as you can get affordable bot mitigation along with all the tools needed to make your website faster and more efficient.
The company provides both security and performance to around 25 Million Internet sites worldwide. Best of all, you can benefit from its DDoS attack mitigation tool as part of its free offer, which also includes DNS, CDN, and free automated SSL certificates.
- Full CDN and DNS solution: the bot protection is only an extra feature that comes with Cloudflare. Its key use case is to deliver content faster to your users.
- Affordable: not only is there a free plan, but the paid plans are also competitively priced.
- Not fully featured: you wouldn’t be able to count on Cloudflare to protect your iGaming company or online store from fake reviews, for instance.
- The entry-level plan is completely free and includes basic DDoS bot mitigation (up to 100 Tbps capacity). For enhanced security, including bot reports and DDoS alerts, you’ll need the Pro plan, which still provides amazing value at only $20 per month.
Choose Cloudflare if:
- You need affordable, basic bot detection software along with a CDN.
ClickGUARD – Protecting PPC Google Ads Campaigns
When it comes to online advertising fraud, bots are one of the biggest headaches for marketers. How can they ensure they get the right result and discount abusive, disruptive, fraudulent, or wasteful clicks?
The answer comes courtesy of ClickGUARD, a solution designed to identify and block all types of unwanted clicks on your Google Ads campaigns. It’s ideal both for advertisers and agencies who need to make the best out of their Google Ads budgets or scale their services and tools for clients.
It might not be the most versatile bot detection software, but ClickGUARD integrates seamlessly with other marketing tools such as ClickFunnels, Hubspot, and even Shopify, Weebly, and Wix, so you can ensure you get the most from your marketing dollars.
- Tailored for Google Ads: If your use case is reducing Google Ads bot traffic, you won’t find a better contender than ClickGUARD.
- Only works for one kind of bot detection: forget about DDoS, credential stuffing, or protection from other kinds of attacks.
- There is a free trial available, then the entry plan starts at $60 per month (5 filtering rules), up to $100 per month (unlimited filtering rules).
Choose ClickGUARD if:
- You want to get better ROI from your Google Ads campaigns.
Radware Bot Manager – Protection From All Automated Threats
Radware offers a complete suite of protection products, including advanced multi-cloud application delivery, public cloud protection, and DDoS protection for data centers. It’s a cybersecurity company that also deals with malware protection and specific attacks on IT systems.
The company also has a specific bot management solution, appropriately named Radware Bot Manager. It uses a detection engine that collects more than 250 parameters to “understand” traffic and detect bots in real-time.
As such, it is designed to mitigate account takeover (ATO), DDoS, API abuse, carding, scraping, ad fraud, and form spam. It is aimed at enterprise clients in eCommerce, media, fintech, and legal services.
Radware Bot Manager pros:
- Real-time monitoring: get alerts in real-time to manually review suspicious activity pointing to bot usage.
- Integration with other Radware products: choosing the company’s Bot Manager makes sense if you’re already in the Radware ecosystem.
- Reliable and renowned cybersecurity company: Radware was founded in 1997, and has a long list of trustworthy clients.
Radware Bot Manager cons:
- Pricey: you can tell Radware targets enterprise clients based on their expensive monthly subscriptions.
- Need to pay for other tools: Radware segments its products based on specific use cases, so if you need better DDoS protection, they’ll sell you an extra tool for that.
Radware Bot Manager pricing:
- You can try Radware Bot Manager free for 30 days, then it’s a whopping $1,130 a month.
Choose Radware Bot Manager if:
- You are an enterprise client who already makes use of other Radware products for cybersecurity.
Reblaze – All-In-One Private Cloud Security
Reblaze offers bot control as one of its many features, which also includes WAF (Web Application Firewall), API protection, CDN and load balancing, and even real-time traffic control for web developers.
It is a technical tool for clients with complex cybersecurity needs. The way it works is by controlling traffic in the cloud and filtering it there before it reaches the protected network.
With a latency of ~0.5 ms, their product is a fast, effective way to control incoming web traffic before allowing legitimate users on your site.
- Cloud-based protection solution: Reblaze creates a security layer between web traffic and your website to give you full control, but it does it fast enough not to slow your performance.
- Complete toolset: you can mitigate bot traffic, but also DDoS attacks and other nefarious kinds of traffic.
- Real-time monitoring: Reblaze allows you to manage your system and to see false positives or negatives in real-time, so you can adjust your filtering rules expediently.
- UI/UX: Reblaze is powerful, but learning how to get the most from its features can be a steep learning curve.
- Expensive: as a complete cybersecurity solution, Reblaze isn’t affordable for SMBs.
- Reblaze offers a free trial, but you need to contact them to get a quote, although their listing on the AWS marketplace offers a calculator to give you a general idea.
Choose Reblaze if:
- You have complex security needs and require multiple protection tools to control your incoming web traffic.
Choosing Your Bot Detection Software
Bot detection software comes in many shapes and sizes. In fact, the biggest challenge when choosing the right tool is already having an understanding of the kind of attacks that target your company and what might crop up further down the line.
This is why it’s important to consider different tools based on your business goals. Whether you need a complete fraud prevention solution or something specific for Google Ads fraud and DDoS, we hope this guide will help you choose the best solution for your business
- How a poker bot ring earned $3M
- Corero: DDoS attacks can cost companies up to $50,000 in damages
- Comparitech: industries most targeted by phishing attacks 2021
FAQ About Bot Detection Software
Yes. Because they are programmed to perform the same actions repeatedly, it’s easy to analyze their activity and flag them as scripts or software.
Bot protection includes tools designed to let you monitor online traffic in order to identify and filter out malicious bots. This may include bots that perform DDoS attacks, ATO attacks, and malicious PPC clicks.
No. Search engines, for instance, use good bots called web crawlers or spiders. Similarly, you should ensure you allow copyright bots and site monitoring bots while filtering out those that may cause DDoS attacks or account takeovers.
The quality of your bot detection software depends on your risk factor. Some companies need bot detection software for their Google Ads campaigns, others to protect accounts from takeovers or from DDoS attacks.