Butchering ‘Bad’ Bots

August 8, 2016

This article was published in the August 2016 issue of STORES Magazine.

The customer service technology tool has a darker side

Rami Essaid hasn’t seen the wildly successful Broadway hit “Hamilton.” But he credits the play and its activist creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, with helping make retailers and consumers more broadly aware of the nasty things “bad” bots can do.

It wasn’t long after Miranda wrote an impassioned, anti-bot op-ed in The New York Timesthat the city of New York took action to criminalize companies that use illegal automated software known as “bots” to surreptitiously snap up the best seats at major events within moments of them going on sale. By the time real fans attempt to purchase tickets, the bots have gobbled them all up.

But Essaid, co-founder and CEO of Distil Networks, doesn’t believe that legislation will solve the problem. Rather, he says, technology needs to be developed and used to identify and stop the “bad” bots. Bots are notorious for stealing everything from the stored value of gift cards to customer credit card information located in retailer accounts. And they’re getting much more sophisticated.

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