Hackers never rest. From unsophisticated, entry-level attacks to massively complex offensives, malicious actors work around the clock from every corner of the globe with one goal in mind: harming your business.
Additionally, the advancement of bot technology has increased the threat tenfold. Now hackers can muster entire armies of bots to execute their attacks for them and amplify the size and scale. It is more important than ever that our security evolves even faster than the bots we’re trying to keep out.
To help you stay up-to-date, we asked cybersecurity experts to share the latest trends and developments in bot management and mitigation. Read on for insights from:
- Eric Vanderburg, vice president of cybersecurity, TCDI
- Kevin L. Jackson, founder, GovCloud Network
- Ratan Jyoti, chief information security officer, Ujjivan Small Finance Bank
- Mark Lynd, executive technology, blockchain, and cybersecurity consulting, Relevant Track
Read on to learn how to stay one step ahead of a relentless foe.
Busting bot management myths
Before we talk about how bot attacks are evolving, it’s important to dispel a couple of common misconceptions. First, Eric Vanderburg points out that every system needs protecting, not just those that deal with private data: “Some companies mistakenly believe their chatbots and websites contain only public information and therefore do not require similar protection to that of systems containing sensitive information,” he says.
While sites that handle sensitive data need extra protection, every site is a potential target for a malicious attack. Now that attacks can be automated and deployed on a massive scale, there’s no such thing as a safe site.
When you hear about automated bot attacks, it’s easy to assume they’re smart, sophisticated strikes that require expensive artificial intelligence countermeasures to beat. That’s not necessarily true, says Kevin L. Jackson. “Bots are ‘dumb’ and execute by following rules configured by humans. That means these processes respond to structured data in a static manner.”
In other words, bots are definitely everyone’s problem, but they’re a problem that can be faced with preparation, vigilance, and the right security partners.
Three steps to bot management: Detect, categorize, and control
Not all bot traffic is malicious, of course. Google uses bots to crawl content and create search engine rankings — without those bots, your site would be invisible to potential customers. Discerning bot traffic from human traffic is just the first step. Then it’s a question of separating good bots from malicious or unknown, and taking steps to control them.
As Ratan Jyoti observes, identifying malicious bots is a three-step process: “Bots have become a major component of today’s digital and connected ecosystem. Hackers can program bots to evade known defenses, harvest credentials and attack using DDoS. Bot management should be built around three basic principles of detect, categorize, and control.”
Categorization involves analyzing the bot’s likely intent and classifying it as either good, bad, or unknown. For safety’s sake, bot management solutions generally take the same precautions for unknown traffic as known bad traffic. You can’t be too careful.
Control can take many forms, depending on the type of traffic. If the bots are attempting to harvest information, security software might block the traffic and feed it a false 404 error. If it’s a botnet attempting a DDoS attack, the software might redirect the traffic to a virtually unlimited cloud server, where it can’t take down the target site.
Emerging trends in bot management
Bot attacks are continuing to evolve, as hacking tools become more widely available and easier to use. The next generation of bots are just starting to cause trouble. Mark Lynd takes a comprehensive look at what’s ahead:
“Now that bot traffic on the web surpassed traffic generated by humans, there are even greater opportunities for site exploitation. As it is increasingly more difficult to distinguish between good bots and bad bots that want to execute account attacks, steal customer data and improperly acquire funds/balances from commerce-driven sites. Being able to identify and recognize the differences between a human, good bot or bad bot is a real art. There are more potential site exploitations and bot issues in the wild, and proper training, care and vigilance should be the primary deterrents.”
Sophisticated attacks require sophisticated solutions
Keeping your site secure from bot attacks is an ongoing war, not a single battle to be won. It’s important to choose partners that will help keep your site secure from attacks both blunt and sophisticated. The right partner should have the capability to stop today’s attacks, but should also have new technology on deck for the bots of tomorrow. With the right partner in place, you can let them do the heavy lifting while you enjoy a piña colada.
To learn more about bot management, download the Cybersecurity Intelligence Report: Bot Management & Mitigation.