We have already mentioned many times that BOTs can be responsible for the majority of online traffic and that almost half of them are malicious, used for online frauds. Their activity can significantly affect the online operation of all businesses, both small and large. What exactly can be the effects of functioning malicious BOTs for different businesses? We will consider this in the text below.
How malicious BOTs can affect the online operations of small businesses.
Although seemingly malicious BOTs are a problem for large companies, in fact they can cause no less problems to small businesses. If a company specializes in a particular industry and publishes related content on its websites, it is exposed to the risk of theft of content by malicious BOTs. Such programs copying the content of posts, entries, and even entire articles and then pasting them on other, often created by themselves, webites are called Website Scrapers, and they can be very useful for competition. But this isn't the only threat from bad BOTs that lurks for small entrepreneurs.
For smaller companies, especially those offering more exclusive products, every comment and opinion that appears on the Internet counts. Also, in this area, malicious BOTs can be very dangerous - adding unfavorable statements, negative ratings or other actions to discredit a given company may be the purpose of their actions. The fact that they often do it on a massive scale certainly doesn't help.
Small companies usually also have small advertising budgets, a significant part of which is allocated to online marketing. Fraud BOTs created to draw money from companies using various forms of online promotion can be very dangerous for them. It isn't only about affiliations, which is due to bad BOTs is full of incorrect leads, clicks and views. Malicious programs can also result in Google Ads budgets exhaustion. In both cases, the consequences of BOTs for the company are not only huge costs, but also reduced effectiveness of its marketing campaigns.
The smaller the business and customer base it boasts, the more valuable their data are. They are also a tasty morsel for the competition, which can use malicious BOTs programs to acquire them. The script written in them instructs them to dig on the site until they find the appropriate data (including user data), and then copy or steal it.
How do malicious BOTs affect the online operations of large companies?
Large enterprises are exposed to all the consequences of bad BOTs listed above, but the scale of the phenomenon is changing. For example, if a company's website is very popular, a whole team of people is working on the content appearing on it. So, if the content published on the site is stolen, the large company will lose even more due to the much higher cost of producing it. Often, content is also an integral element of an advertising campaign, the course of which can be this way disturbed.
BOTs that generate artificial traffic in marketing campaigns are another threat that becomes even more serious for large enterprises. Fraud BOTs create incorrect manifestations of user activity (clicks, registrations, leads, etc.) and thus inflate reports submitted to advertisers in partner programs. Bigger advertising budgets of large companies mean that thieves have much more to gain, while the chances that an advertiser using many promotion channels and traffic sources will realize that he is being cheated are smaller.
In addition, BOTs could be created to extract data from website administrators. Such malicious BOTs are a huge threat to large businesses. Their purpose can be the theft of confidential financial information, personal data of users visiting the website, blackmailing owners, and even taking full control over the website. For this type of activities scammers may use devices of unaware users (so-called Zombies) that were previously infected by malicious BOTs are often used. At some point, the hardware that makes up the network (so-called BOTnets) launch a DDoS attack - and thus floods the site with false information. They often do this until a given website can't withstand anymore and will have to temporarily resign from providing services, which in case of large companies can have very serious consequences - both in terms of material and image losses.
Malicious BOTs can therefore do a lot of harm to any business, whether it's small businesses or huge companies. Protection against them, however, doesn't have to be expensive - specialized companies such as TrafficWatchdog offer service packages in variants adapted to the size of a given business, so even small companies should easily find funds for this type of activity.