According to Laurent Gil, co-founder of Zenedge and security architect at Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, “Bot management is a feature of an application security platform that is trying to identify whether the requests that come into a website or to a mobile application are coming from a human or from a machine.”
But bot management and bot mitigation are more than just identifying bot traffic. One must also identify which of those bots are good — like Googlebot — or bad, like those probing your site for vulnerabilities. Then, there’s the matter of actually doing something about the suspicious or malicious bot traffic.
To help you get started, we’ve identified a few key steps that organizations can take to defend themselves from malicious bots, botnets and other bad actors. For expert insights that help illustrate the points below, and even more advice, flip through the Cybersecurity Intelligence Report.
Step 1: Understand your vulnerabilities
Data is collected through every interaction and transaction online. Every business with a web presence is collecting sensitive data that might be of value to bad actors. Cybersecurity isn’t simply for health systems and financial institutions — everyone’s a target.
As it becomes increasingly inexpensive to run bot attacks, and as hacking tools start to catch pace with traditional security measures, the threat level is escalating. Businesses must continually evaluate and evolve their security measures to stay ahead of hackers. It’s crucial to understand the nature of the threat and have a clear plan of action to patch and protect their vulnerabilities online.
Step 2: Secure the IoT
Digital assistants and internet-connected household appliances — the Internet of Things — have introduced new vulnerabilities that hackers are eager to exploit. These devices can be taken over – turned into zombie bots — and used to create botnets that can be wielded to execute DDoS attacks.
Unlike traditional botnets, infected IoT devices seek to spread malware, persistently targeting more and more devices, thus creating a larger and larger botnet. These kinds of attacks are quickly escalating as our reliance on these kinds of technologies increases.
Each organization needs to set limits and processes to help mitigate risk, and understand their impact on privacy and security. In the case of IoT botnets, it’s very hard to notice any signs of infection. It’s imperative that organizations are proactive in securing connected devices, such as changing device passwords on a regular basis and enabling automatic updating.
Step 3: Distinguish bot mitigation myths from facts
In order to make informed and actionable decisions about the security in your business, it’s important to have the right information.
For example, you may have heard that all bots are bad. That’s not the case — there are plenty of bots that serve perfectly legitimate, even helpful functions. Bots like Googlebot and others help your content get found online, where RSS bots help serve your content to your subscribers.
Another common myth is that all bots have artificial intelligence. While some bots are sophisticated programs with intelligent behaviors built in, most are essentially simple machines that are programmed to execute a single set of commands.
Lastly, it’s often assumed that all bot attacks involve hacking. In fact, many bot attacks are simply probing for vulnerabilities that a hacker can exploit later.
Step 4: Detect, categorize, and control
According to Ratan Jyoti, CISO at Ujjivan Small Finance Bank, “bot management should be built around the three basic principles of detect, categorize, and control.”
Detecting bot traffic is the first step. Bot mitigation and management solutions should be able to identify non-human traffic patterns and begin to dig deeper. That’s where categorization comes in.
Once bot traffic has been identified, the next step is to categorize the type of traffic. If it’s known bot traffic – like that of search engine bots – it should be allowed to pass. But known malicious bots, or bots of unknown intent, shouldn’t be allowed to pass.
Finally, the malicious bot traffic must be controlled. The type of bot mitigation required will depend on the type of attack. For a denial of service attack, your security software should simply divert the traffic. If the bot is looking for vulnerabilities or trying to commit fraud like shopping cart stuffing, the software should both deny access and return a false “page not found” 404 to the bot, to stave off future attacks from the same source.
As with any battle, the fight against malicious bots requires a clear strategy and strong alliances to win. Finding the right help – at the right time – is imperative to staying ahead of bad actors. If you’re ready to level up your cyber defenses, we’re here to help. Start today with a personalized security report.