In a concerning revelation by the fraud control platform Arkose Labs, about 73% of internet traffic to websites and apps that was analyzed between January and September 2023 has been attributed to bots engaging in malicious activities. This revelation sparks discussions about the significant drain on valuable resources caused by such nefarious actions.
The third quarter of 2023 witnessed the dominance of five primary categories of bad bot activities, including account takeover, scraping, fake account creation, account management, and in-product abuse. This is similar to the second quarter, with the notable exception of in-product abuse stepping in for card testing.
Among the categories, SMS toll fraud experienced the highest quarter-over-quarter surge, escalating by a staggering 2,141% in the third quarter compared to the previous one2. Equally noteworthy was a 160% increase in attacks on customer support call centers during the same period. Scraping, which had the most significant spike from the first quarter to the second quarter of 2023 at 432%, highlights the dynamic nature of these malicious activities.
Arkose Labs reported a 291% increase in intelligent bot attacks from the first quarter to the second. This surge is linked to the utilization of sophisticated techniques, including machine learning and AI, that enable these bots to mimic human behavior with heightened adaptability. In instances where AI and technology fall short, cybercriminals resort to human-operated fraud farms to execute their attacks. Fraudulent operations are predominantly identified in Brazil, India, Russia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
The escalating trend in bad bot attacks suggests that cybercriminals find this mode of operation highly profitable. The integration of efficient AI is anticipated to aggravate the situation, raising concerns about the efficacy of current defense mechanisms. A few months back, we reported that Microsoft’s Bing Chat was recommending malware advertisements that sent users to malicious websites instead of filtering them out.
While the prevalence of malicious bots is a cause for concern, it’s crucial to acknowledge the existence of beneficial bots that contribute positively to the online ecosystem. Many serve useful functions such as website indexing for search engines, handling basic customer service tasks, and managing social media experiences.