We know of bots helping organizations streamline their work processes, but there are others that are ruining the Internet as well. Often termed as bad bots, they can scrape any website, manifest false web traffic and ad impressions, commit fraudulent activities and steal sensitive data.
With more and more companies undergoing digital transformation and turning automated, the good bots have taken major areas like customer service, financial advisory, sales and marketing and much more. The bots were designed to communicate with humans with the help of an auditory or messaging interface. They have successfully increased productivity, enhanced revenue flows and streamlined business operations. Today’s bots have become more intelligent and empathetic compared to previous ones.
But along with all the benefits, they have also become a threat to organizations and people. With hackers, criminals and fraudsters always on the lookout to carry out illegal activities, they have come up with newer ways to turn the good bots bad. Businesses need to block the bad bots and enable the good bots.
What’s shocking is that according to a report, out of all the internet users, good bots account for 20.4%, while bad bots account for 21.8%.
Effects of bad bots on businesses
Experiences major drop in SEO ranking
Any website’s SEO ranking depends largely on different factors such as good content, accessible URLs, credible hyperlinks, fast loading time, etc. Bad bots can destroy and crush any website’s ranking. They can do it by scraping the website, tracking down the factors helping the website rank higher, and manipulating the elements all together.
The bots are specifically designed and programmed to crawl through the websites, steal unique content, and present it at other sites without acknowledging the source. During such activity, the author is completely unaware of it. The search engine might consider the duplicated content as unique, thus affecting the actual website rank.
For example, a DDOS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attack is performed by botnets, where a single victim is targeted and attacked. This attack may cause the website to crash down and restrict access to people. A website’s downtime for a longer period can significantly impact the SEO ranking.
Stealing private information
After visiting a website, customers usually fill up a form or provide personal information as is required. There are chances where malicious bots scrape websites and steal data provided by the users.
It is performed by web scraping. Basically, web scraping is not bad for businesses. It all depends on how one uses this technique. Bad bots use content scraping bots to repurpose content where it republishes other website content on the other site. Contact bots scan websites, download sensitive information and propagate it to others.
Disturbs revenue flows
Bad bots crawl over a website, collect sensitive data of the products, and forward it to competitors. This results in competitors getting a clear view of business strategy, customer response rate, and product pricing approach. Competitors get a chance to refine their business plans and gain a competitive edge. Such acts can surely ruin the economic stability of any business.
Moreover, bad bots can also click and view ads. As a result, publishers consider this fake traffic rate as credible. The more the traffic rate, the more the fees that needs to be paid, thus affecting the company’s overall revenue.
Destroys customer trust
Attackers try to feed a site with lots of malicious backlinks while the owner’s site is unaware of the activity. Such activities are difficult to identify as it barely looks different from the original site. But the search engine may detect it. It will recommend people not to visit the site and may even flag it as spam. People will stop visiting the site, thus negatively impacting customers regarding the brand.
Also, clicking on malicious links may redirect potential customers to unwanted sites. This will for sure tarnish the website’s authenticity, leaving customers unsatisfied and unhappy.
Organizations perform timely website analytics to gauge the overall effectiveness of their site. A marketing team keeps track of the traffic rate, customer base, and success rates of ads posted online. But bad bots may turn the situation at any time.
Consider a scenario where organizations collect information from clients by filling up a form. With the help of these forms, organizations map the traffic rate on the website. But hackers here try to manipulate the website by training the bad bots to fill forms and create fake profiles. This results in website analytics getting skewed, building up inappropriate metrics for the marketing team.
Another case would be considering businesses that promote their products on the Internet, for which companies pay a handsome amount of money. Attackers program bad bots to click on these ads just like humans. In this case, organizations are under the impression that people visit their websites, but it is the bot in reality.
As such, there is no infallible security system that can help control the negative activities committed by bad bots. Organizations can take some preemptive steps to secure their websites. They can include advanced traffic filters that can remove irrelevant attention from bots. Moreover, it can deploy a Web Application Firewall, leveraging cloud platforms for data storage and changing network infrastructure.
Encountering plagiarism is possible by installing an easy-to-use, robust, and effective tool like Copyscape. It helps check whether the content is being duplicated and defends the site as legitimate. Also, regular monitoring of SEO ranking is required. A sudden fall in SEO ranking indicates that the website is infected. As a solution, companies should look forward to those vendors who are skilled in handling the vulnerable attacks and ill effects of bad bots.
Thus, businesses must start improvising on keeping away from bad bots and help reach greater heights without any interference.
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