Inside the 'war' between resale bots and sneaker brands

November 21, 2017

Matt from Melbourne wanted a dog and a house and to get them he would use a bot made in Lebanon to buy shoes designed by an American rapper.

He wanted Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Semi Frozen Yellows - the most limited release ever of Kanye West's sneaker collaboration with Adidas. He wanted Yeezys. As many Yeezys as possible. He knew he could resell them for five times the original price. He got his bot ready.

As shoes went on sale in successive time zones on Saturday, about 40 Australian sneaker buyers hung out in a private chat group, sharing information and using virtual private networks and proxy servers to buy from overseas websites. They call themselves 'Copped'.

The bot defense networks

Bots could be the reason the sneakers you wanted were all sold out as soon as they went on sale, or the same for airline tickets, event tickets - anything that's in high demand and being sold online, in limited numbers, is vulnerable to resale bot networks.

Companies are starting to invest more in bot mitigation, according to one of the world's largest bot detection companies, Distil Networks, based in Silicon Valley.

Its Chief Product and Strategy Officer, Rami Essaid, told Hack its clients include Paypal, Ticketmaster, Lufthansa, Kellogg's, and "one of the world's biggest banks".

Bot defense is a "cat and mouse game" with bot makers, Rami said.

One bot defense is CAPTCHA boxes, where the user is prompted to decipher squiggly lines or pick out pictures that show a shopfront or a letterbox.

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Rami Essaid, Distil Networks Co-founder
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