How to Detect Malicious Bot Traffic

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Detecting malicious bot traffic have become a huge challenge for many publishers. As they inflate page views and generate fraudulent ad impressions, they can also jeopardize the relationships publishers have with their demand partners. While there are tools that can help mitigate bad bot traffic, these are limited and often miss a large portion of the problem.

Traditional detection methods like rate limiting can identify some bots but are insufficient to address the current threat landscape, especially since bad actors are using sophisticated methods to hide their activities. The key is to look for anomalies in the behavior of your website visitors. For example, sudden spikes in contact form submissions containing gibberish, sudden high volume of newsletter subscriptions with a low bounce back or high average time on page could indicate that some of your website traffic is automated.

Identifying Malicious Bot Traffic: Strategies to Defend Your Website

Spikes in site traffic from unexpected locations can also be an indicator of malicious bots. These may be attempting to masquerade as human visitors, or they may be trying to get around local laws. A good bot management solution will use device fingerprinting to collect non-identifiable data about the software and hardware that visitors are running and compare this against a database of known bot signatures. This can uncover both simple bots that are using residential proxies or more sophisticated ones that have been configured to be undetectable by standard detection techniques. The best solutions are able to monitor all traffic in real time, rather than analyzing samples at regular intervals. This allows them to detect bad bots when they are just starting their attack, rather than after they have already caused significant damage.

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