What is a malicious bot?
Computer robots are essential to the proper functioning of the web, to index content and make it accessible to users, for example.
On the other hand, there are also harmful bots, often used by hackers to spread spam or steal data. These malicious bots are capable of producing different typesbot attacks, such as spamming, content scraping, DDoS attacks or commercial fraud. Depending on the attack, the consequences can be more or less serious:
- Saturating your community space with fake reviews,
- Downloading your content (texts, images, HTML code, etc.) to create duplicate content or copy your entire site,
- False actions to favor another competitor,
- Site made inaccessible to your customers, sometimes resulting in a drop in traffic…
Specifically, it is essential to detect these malicious bots and stop them before they cause you harm!
3 methods to detect malicious bots on your site
1. Analyze your web traffic
One of the methods to detect the presence of bad bots is to analyze your website traffic, using a web analytics. For example, you can rely on the most popular tool on the market, Google Analytics, or on GDPR-compliant solutions such as SWAN Where Matomo.
If you notice an abnormal increase in traffic that is not explained by a better natural referral or a communication action, it is likely due to a bot attack.
Another factor to watch out for is traffic sources. If you see an unusual traffic source, such as a unique IP for example, this may indicate the presence of malicious bots.
2. Monitor the behavior of your visitors
Another way to detect the presence of malicious bots is to analyze the behavior of visitors to your site.
For this, the easiest way is to rely on a bot management platform. These solutions analyze web user behavior in real time to detect genuine visitors versus malicious bots. In general, these tools analyze different types of traffic (Tor, proxy, spambots, etc.) and the reputation of IPs, to automatically block traffic that is considered dangerous. In general, you also access a detailed report of the state of your traffic, to take the necessary measures.
3. Integrate a plugin into your CMS
If your site is published via a CMS like WordPress or Shopify for example, you have the option to add plugins which have the role of detecting malicious bots. As an example, we can quote Black hole for evil robots (free WordPress plugin), or Shopkeeper (paid Shopify addon).
Protect yourself from malicious bots every day
Knowing how to spot bad bots is helpful, but knowing how to defend against them is even more important! For this, you can manually configure a robot.txt file as well as crawl rules to list authorized bots and exclude malicious bots using a blacklist. On the other hand, it is a long and meticulous job, requiring developing technical skills.
The other way to protect yourself is to choose a bot management solution (mentioned above), which, in addition to detecting malicious bots, will be able to block them and protect your site.