Bad Bots Weren’t Eating Turkey over Thanksgiving

December 16, 2016 Peter Zavlaris

They were scouring retail websites, and continue to do so through the holiday season, seeking price information and site vulnerabilities.

Colin Murray, IT security analyst at Distil Networks, contributed to this article.

On Dec. 1, the Senate passed the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, which aims to criminalize the use of bots to buy tickets and resell them at hugely inflated prices. While the BOTS Act has also gained support from show business personalities decrying the abuse of ticket prices at Adele and Bruce Springsteen concerts, it's important to understand that the bot problem is not just about ticket scalping at expensive shows. Any business with a website, especially in e-commerce, is constantly under attack from bots. Show business may have the glamour, but the e-commerce world is suffering just as badly.

Unlike humans, bad bots don’t take time off. Over the Thanksgiving holiday and Cyber Monday, almost 25 percent of requests made on e-commerce sites came from a bad bot. On average, bad bot traffic made up 22 percent of e-commerce traffic, which is a five percent increase from last year’s average percentage of bad bot traffic to e-commerce sites (bad bots accounted for 17 percent of e-commerce traffic in 2015).

Interestingly, there was a spike in bot traffic just before midnight on Cyber Monday, which indicates that bots were preparing for their assault on the day when most sales prices change to lure in online shoppers.

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About the Author

Peter Zavlaris

Peter Zavlaris weighs in on various topics around bot mitigation, bot defense sharing white papers, videos and other resources on the topic.

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