Rise of the bots -- 42.3 percent of internet traffic in 2021 wasn't human

The latest Bad Bot Report from Imperva shows that bots are an increasingly significant part of the web, accounting for over 42 percent of traffic overall.

More concerning still is that bad bots accounted for a record-setting 27.7 percent of all global website traffic in 2021, up from 25.6 percent in 2020. The three most common bot attacks are account takeover, content or price scraping, and scalping to obtain limited-availability items.

Bad bots can often be the first indicator of online fraud and represent a risk to digital businesses, as well as their customers. In 2021, evasive bad bots -- a grouping of moderate and advanced bad bots that elude standard security defenses -- made up 65.6 percent of all bad bot traffic. This breed of bot uses the latest evasion techniques, including cycling through random IPs, entering through anonymous proxies, changing identities, and mimicking human behavior to evade detection.

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"Businesses cannot overlook the impact of malicious bot activity as it is contributing to more account compromise, higher infrastructure and support costs, customer churn, and degraded online services," says Ryan Windham, vice president, application security at Imperva. "With automated fraud growing in intensity and complexity, advanced bot protection is essential for preventing the growing threat digital businesses and consumers face from bad bots."

Among other findings, in 2021, 64.1 percent of account takeover attacks used an advanced bad bot. Financial services was the most targeted industry (34.6 percent), followed by travel (23.2 percent).

Interestingly the proportion of bad bot traffic varies by country. In 2021, Germany (39.6 percent), Singapore (39.1 percent), and Canada (30.2 percent) experienced the highest volumes of bad bot traffic, while the US (29.1 percent) and UK (29.7 percent) were also higher than the global average (27.7 percent) of bad bot traffic.

Mobile user agents are a popular disguise for bad bot traffic with 35.6 percent seeking to hide this way last year, accounting for more than one-third of all internet traffic, and up from 28.1 percent in 2020.

The full report is available from the Imperva site.

Image credit: davincidig/depositphotos.com

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