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BOTs online activity. Are BOTs an opportunity or a threat to your business?

TrafficWatchdog team

29.01.2020 r.

bots, malicious bots, companies, BOTs online activity, chatBOTs

BOTs online activity. Are BOTs an opportunity or a threat to your business?

source: own elaboration

BOTs, and therefore automated programs operating according to the script imposed on them, can now constitute even the majority of all internet traffic. No wonder that more attention is given to them and their role for the business world. In the following text we will consider whether BOTs are an opportunity or a threat to modern enterprises?

The use of BOTs in business

In February 2018, the Business of Bots 2019 conference was held in San Francisco. Organized by GSMI, the event focused on the topic of BOTs - the latest trends in the use of similar solutions in business and the best practices of their creation, implementation and management.

Certainly, one of the most popular BOT applications in business are chatBOTs. According to EMarketer's forecast, by the end of 2019, more than a quarter of all humanity was to use automated communication programs. A study by Spiceworks showed that 40% of companies employing over 500 people planned to implement at least one intelligent assistant or robot based on artificial intelligence in 2019. Although we don't know the results yet, we will certainly see the first statistics in this area soon.

Facebook IQ also believes in chatBOTs - it predicts that the increase in interest in similar solutions will last at least until the end of 2020. Business Insider experts maintain that before 2020 is over, 80% of companies will use good BOTs in customer service, and the Opus Research agency estimates that by 2021, business will invest $ 4.5 billion globally for this purpose. Other sources say that within two years, i.e. until the end of 2022, chatBOTs will be in control of the financial industry. According to them banks can automate up to 90% of their interactions with customers.

Advantages and disadvantages of chatBOTs.

However, users have divided opinions. Admittedly, when asked about the advantages of such solutions, Internet users indicate their speed, high quality of advice and honesty of answers. At the same time, however, the usabilla.com survey showed that as many as 46% of respondents would prefer to receive online help from a living person. Similar results were obtained by a survey conducted by UJET - 58% of respondents said that chatbots are not satisfactorily effective. Spiceworks also looked at the issue. In his study, 59% of people indicated that chatBOTs often misinterpreted details, 30% also said that they carried out the instructions inaccurately, and 29% noticed that chatBOT had difficulty recognizing the accent. It is also alarming that such automated assistants often can't distinguish the voice of the client from the surroundings, which can be a serious problem in certain circumstances.

Advantages and disadvantages of chatBOTs are also noticed by enterprises. On the one hand, their implementation allows to employ fewer employees, and automated customer service programs are much more efficient than people (they can support more people at the same time). However, these types of solutions are expensive, require implementation, and often also purchase new equipment or changes in the company's infrastructure. They are also unreliable and don't give as good results as one would expect.

Threats that BOTs can bring for business?

Distil Networks published its Bad Bot Report 2019: The Bot Arms Race Continues at the beginning of 2019, in which it analyzes automated internet traffic. According to this report, programs and applications are responsible for 37.9% of all online activities. Interestingly, most of them (54%) are traffic generated by bad BOTs, and therefore those that can cause serious threats. It should be mentioned that, according to researchers, malicious BOTs are evolving and are becoming more technologically advanced every year - they are able to imitate human behavior well and at the same time hide their origin well enough that their correct recognition can be very difficult. The authors of the report describe them as Advanced Persistent Bots (APB), and in their opinion they constitute 73.6% of all such programs. They can be very dangerous - they work on the basis of anonymous proxy servers or other technologies designed to hide their identity, and thus can carry out automated attacks on websites, APIs or large, well-secured databases.

This doesn't mean, however, that less advanced bad BOTs, which, according to the report, account for 26.4% of all bad BOTs, can’t harm your enterprise. They can copy content from one website to another without the author's consent, search and download information contained on pages and then provide them to unfair competition, download confidential personal data, set up fake accounts, generate spam, create fraudulent transactions, cause frauds related to online advertising and a lot more.

Industries particularly at risk from BOTs.

Although BOTs activities may affect all branches of business, the report mentioned the most vulnerable to their attacks.

Most often malicious BOTs attacked websites promoting financial services - according to researchers, 42% of all activities on websites from the financial industry were generated by bad BOTs. To illustrate the scale of the phenomenon, we can add that in 2018 alone Akamai Technologies, one of the largest data storage companies in the world, handling approximately 30% of all internet traffic, reported over one billion false authentication attempts against companies financial.

Other sectors that are very attractive to bad BOTs are: ticket sales (39% of all traffic on ticket distribution sites came from malicious BOTs), education (38%), government sectors (30%), airlines (25.9%), games and gambling (25.9%) and e-commerce (18%).

The use of good BOTs, for example chatBOTs, by companies to improve the customer service process (and not only) is becoming completely common. Similar solutions can be a great opportunity for any business, although they involve high costs and some risk. At the same time, bad BOTs are a real threat to all companies present on the Internet. In addition to investing in technologies based on the operation of useful BOTs, we recommend that you transfer part of your budget to protect your business against malicious ones. TrafficWatchdog will gladly prepare a preventive action plan to protect your business from bad BOTs.

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