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Automated programs known as bots are used for doing repetitive tasks, at exceptional speed, which are impossible for humans to think of. Most bots are created for malicious purposes and has negative impact on your business. A malicious bot is programmed to extract web data illegally from various websites. The data may very well include a diverse range of information from various business verticals including, but not limited to, online media and publishing.
So, how can bots affect your online media and publishing sites?
Content replicated on other websites – Malicious scraper bots are programmed to lift off original content from websites. Content driven businesses like news, product reviews, blog posts, opinion pieces, product prices, classifieds listings are hugely affected by scraping. The primary goal of the scraper bot is to steal the original content from your website and publish it elsewhere in a matter of minutes. This illegal replication of your content on a few websites will eventually degrade your SEO and outrank you on search engine listings.
Unwanted spam in web forms and forums – Malicious bots spam your forums by hijacking the thread away from current discussion . The bots become a nuisance by posting unwanted advertisements, promotions and malicious links. This frustrates the users when it comes between genuine user conversations and will instantly create a bad impression in the minds of your users. In some cases, when a user accidentally clicks on a link and the link redirects to a phishing website, the user may end up losing confidential data (like credit card number, or PIN). This would make the user not to visit your website again.
Website analytics skewed by bots – Analytics is important to measure metrics such as site traffic, user demographics, bounce rates, campaign performance, and so on. A few businesses like real estate and eCommerce rely on analytics. They use it to track the leads, keep an eye on the marketing activities, inventory management and business strategies. Take an eCommerce business for instance. The bots would bloat the traffic which would result in bogus metrics. This can trick you into believing that the traffic is from genuine prospects. The bots even add products to the cart and abandon them at a later stage. When you see conversion rates plummeting you realise you’re losing your competitive edge. Malicious bots contribute to referral spam and generates fake traffic on your website. They skew the metrics, which may negatively influence your decision making process.This also impacts media and publishing websites as the decision maker can inadvertently increase the marketing expenditure, only to realize decreased ROIs.
Infrastructure and monetary loss – Almost 50% of the traffic hitting your website can be from bots, and unfortunately, most of them are malicious. When thousands of bots hit your website, the load on your server increases. You end up spending for your precious server and bandwidth resources from unwanted bot traffic. Also, this hinders genuine user experience on the portal as the page load times will be impacted by unchecked bot activity.
Manually preventing malicious bots without affecting the genuine user traffic is just going to get harder. Online businesses have much to lose if they don’t address the bot problems head on. It is important to have a real-time automated bot prevention solution to safeguard your online business, so that you can focus on other high-priority tasks required to grow your business.
Originally posted on www.informationsecuritybuzz.com