Combatting the Growing Threat of AI-driven Bot Attacks

Bot traffic has been a part of the internet landscape for quite a while now and is currently estimated to comprise somewhere between 50% to 60% of internet traffic. Half of these are good bots, such as spider bots, also known as search engine crawlers. Good bots also include partner bots, social network bots, website monitoring bots, backlink checker bots, aggregator bots, and more. These are the kind of bots that you usually don’t want to block, but you do want to recognize and monitor them, as sometimes their traffic can increase and start to reach the limits of server capacity, or their volumes can result in skewed analytics.

But let’s talk about the other half, the bad bots – about 30% of internet traffic. These automated adversaries, deployed by competitors and fraudsters alike, possess cunning abilities to emulate human behavior and are distributed in legions to wreak havoc across industries. They target your websites, mobile apps, and APIs with a singular purpose: to exploit vulnerabilities and execute nefarious acts such as account takeover, fraud, scalping, denial of inventory, and data scraping. These malicious attacks not only put business revenue at risk but also damage customer experience, undermine brand reputation and disrupt operational efficiency.

If that wasn’t enough of a challenge for organizations to deal with, now a new generation of AI-driven bot attacks is taking an even higher toll on enterprises. Have you noticed how bot attacks are becoming more aggressive and frequent?

Empowered by the capabilities of artificial intelligence, hackers now have a super smart new member on their evil team – AI. Leveraging the democratization of generative AI tools, bad actors have raised the stakes in the realm of bot attacks to a whole new, sinister level:

  • They swiftly identify vulnerabilities, exploiting them with precision ten times faster than before.
  • They easily acquire sophisticated bot scripts or craft new zero-day scripts for attacks that evade detection, striking with stealth.
  • They use offline local LLM (Large Language Models) models to craft zero-day automated campaigns.
  • They can easily prompt generative AI tools to debug and relaunch bots in mere minutes instead of days or weeks, thus enhancing their persistence.

This new breed of bot attacks is characterized by its sophistication, persistence, and aggression. These bots can seamlessly change IPs, morph their appearance, and mimic human behavior, rendering traditional defense mechanisms obsolete.

The Limitations of Traditional Responsive Protections

Conventional and basic bot management solutions that are dependent on rate limiting, basic fingerprinting, known signatures, and CAPTCHA challenges find themselves outmaneuvered by this new breed of advanced high-volume bot attacks. They are easily deceived by bots that mimic human behavior, rotate their IPs and identities, manipulate headers, or use CAPTCHA farms to get through CAPTCHA challenges. The result is either inadvertently blocking legitimate users or simply letting nefarious bots an easy pass into your applications.

Fighting AI with AI: Proactive Bot Mitigation

In the face of these aggressive new bot attacks, bot management solutions must leverage AI and machine learning and adopt a proactive, multi-layered protection approach. They need to be able to preemptively block most of the unwanted bad traffic before it even reaches your application. Doing so can not only reduce a significant portion of your application infrastructure overhead but also eliminate much of the noise from your security and business analytics systems.

Radware Bot Manager, deployed as part of the Radware one-stop application protection solution, preemptively blocks unwanted IPs by utilizing its proprietary global active attackers feed and a unique AI-based cross-correlation engine that automatically correlates security events across different protection modules and applications to block malicious sources. It also blocks unwanted identities by leveraging unique capabilities such as browser JavaScript challenges, as well as mobile user attestation for Android and iOS devices, which, along with a proprietary secure identity engine, stop bot attacks on web and mobile apps before they materialize and impact your infrastructure. These preemptive measures alone eliminate most of the noise and garbage bot traffic from reaching your applications in the first place.

The Radware solution also employs behavioral-based detection models that can generate granular signatures in real-time and mitigate attacks. In addition to our intent-based behavioral detection, which examines a range of end-user behavior gestures and the context of the end-user journey, these models leverage AI to detect sophisticated bot evasion behaviors such as rotating IPs and identities, distributed attacks, header manipulations, and the use of third-party CAPTCHA-farm services. Advanced cryptography also plays a significant role. Behind-the-scenes CAPTCHA-less crypto challenges, based on blockchain technology, exhaust malicious bot machines and bring them to a complete halt without impacting end-user experience.

Digital Business Performance is as Good as Your Ability to Manage Bot Traffic

Adopting a proactive approach to bot mitigation offers several key advantages for businesses:

Operational Costs: Significantly reduce application infrastructure overheads and total cost of ownership (TCO). The sheer volume of bot traffic places a strain on application infrastructure, leading to increased costs related to bandwidth consumption, computing power, delivery, and CDN services. By preemptively blocking unwanted bot traffic, organizations can reduce the load on their infrastructure, resulting in lower operational costs and improved efficiency.

Marketing & Business ROI: A proactive bot management solution driven by AI can prevent ad skewing, cart abandonment, churn rates, conversion rates, and conversion costs. By accurately detecting and mitigating bot-driven activities that skew advertising metrics, influence user behavior, and impact conversion rates, organizations can maintain a competitive edge and maximize their ROI.

Customer Experience: Safeguard business performance by ensuring uninterrupted service availability. By preemptively blocking malicious bots, organizations can prevent disruptions that can negatively impact customer experience and brand reputation.

Financial impact: Help mitigate the risk of financial losses due to fraud and other malicious activities. By blocking account takeover attempts, credit card fraud, and other forms of fraudulent behavior, organizations can protect their revenue streams and preserve customer trust.

In conclusion, AI is here to stay and it’s only the beginning. Bot masters will continue to leverage these evolving tools to launch attacks that are more accurate and aggressive. Don’t sit on the laurels, make sure your bot management solution is up to the task.

Contact us to learn more about proactive application protection strategies and AI-based solutions.

Uri Dorot

Uri Dorot is a senior product marketing manager at Radware, specializing in application protection solutions, service and trends. With a deep understanding of the cyber threat landscape, Uri helps companies bridge the gap between complex cybersecurity concepts and real-world outcomes.

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