Bad bots are stealing data and ruining the customer experience

To protect your company from bad bots, you must first understand what kinds of bots are attacking your firm.
Written by Forrester Research, Contributor

Every online customer touchpoint -- including websites, mobile apps, and APIs -- is being attacked by bots. What are these bad bots doing? Interrupting good customer traffic, committing fraud, and stealing information. Ad fraud alone is set to exceed $3.3 billion in 2018.

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If all that wasn't bad enough, bots are also trying to skew the data your company uses to make decisions. Your marketing and customer experience colleagues track user behavior to improve customer journeys or buy advertising. Unless you're actively defending against bad bots, these decisions could be way off base, and extremely costly.

Understand the threat of bad bots

The first step in protecting your company from bad bots is to understand what kinds of bots are attacking your firm. Forrester recently researched the different forms bad bots take and the best tools to stop them. Some of the worst offenders are:

  • Sneakerbots, a form of checkout-abuse bots that hoard inventory for resell. Attackers can purchase Sneakerbots for a low as $10, with more sophisticated options running up to $500.
  • Bots can act like humans to make it look like certain sites and advertisements are getting more traffic than they really are getting. For example, advertisers inadvertently paid "Methbot" $3 million to 5 million per day for "viewing" their ads.
  • Web-scraping bots simply troll websites to gather data for purposes such as price comparisons, IP theft, or plagiarism. In fact, they can even use your website search tools against you, which Facebook learned when bots automatically collected identities and information on most of its two billion users.
  • Influence-fraud bots are the most insidious; they sway the data your company -- and your customers -- use to make decisions. For example, a retail site that includes product rating scores could easily make wrong decisions about what products to promote or discount, while false data could also sway customers to make poor purchase decisions.

New technologies are available to stop bad bots

You must understand the vendor landscape to inform your decisions on which bot management solution is right for your company. These tools differ greatly in terms of what they provide for bot threat protection and response.

--By Amy DeMartine, principal analyst

This post originally appeared here.

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