Bot Malware: A Rising Security Threat

Bot Malware: A Rising Security Threat

A bot is a software that automates web requests for various purposes. Without human intervention, bots are employed to complete various activities, from customer care support to testing credit card numbers that have been compromised to scanning website content. While a "bot attack" always refers to an attacker with fraudulent intent, individuals can an employed in beneficial and detrimental ways.

What Is A Bot Attack?

The goal of a bot attack is to trick, defraud, or meddle with a website, app, API, or end users by using automated online queries. Initially simple spamming operations, bot attacks have grown into complex, international criminal networks with their infrastructures and economies.

How Do Attackers Conduct Bot Attacks?

Both small-scale hacktivist groups and large-scale cybercriminals carry out automated bot attacks. To avoid security monitoring, sophisticated attackers create custom codes to modify the frequency and duration of an automated attack. Contact a San Diego County, California, cybersecurity consultant to protect your business from Bot malware.


Simple online thieves construct bootkit using open-source development tools. Malicious actors often purchase bot kits On the Dark Web and offer them for free online. In addition to software that powers DDoS assaults, bot kit vendors provide paid services for bot attacks.


A botnet, sometimes known as a "robot network," is a collection of connected devices collaborating to carry out repeated tasks. A harmful botnet is a collection of computers infected with bot malware; each computer under the control of a botnet is referred to as a "bot." To conduct coordinated attacks, a threat actor, or "bot-herder," issues orders to the botnet from a central location.

Botnets can expand to contain enormous numbers of bots, making them powerful weapons in the hands of attackers. For example, a vast botnet may control millions of computers to conduct DDoS attacks with significant volume. Still, a small botnet may manage a focused entry into a valued system, such as one containing sensitive financial or government intelligence.

What Sorts Of Data Are Attackers Aiming While Using Bots?

Bots are tools to launch attacks on APIs and web applications to steal or change sensitive data. Below are typical bot attack scenarios:

     1.   Scraping Web Content

False Search Engine Bots vs. Real Search Engine Bots

Web scraping software automatically copies and scrapes content from other websites. While scanning data, these search bot imposters can pass like trustworthy search engine crawlers but steal content without the website owner's knowledge or permission.

Contrarily, legitimate search engine bots (like Googlebot and robots.txt) use user agent strings to identify themselves. Google and Bing use bot crawlers to index content to improve search engine results for users.

     2.   ATO (Account Takeover)

Large dumps of user credentials made public by data breaches are frequently sold to threat actors on the dark web. Then, attackers conduct account takeover fraud using automated bots (also known as credential stuffing attacks), which involves quickly testing usernames and passwords in the authentication processes for user-facing websites.

Once authentic user credentials have been discovered, threat actors take control of website accounts and lock out authorized users. Attackers use the saved payment information and personally identifiable information (PII) from those accounts to carry out a variety of fraud schemes, including opening new credit card accounts and making transactions using the stored payment information.

How to Prevent Bot Attacks on Web Applications and APIs

     1.   Recognize Bot Attack Indicators

Security must examine each online request to create a baseline of typical activity. After establishing a threshold for acceptable action, keep an eye out for unusual web requests to assist you in determining which ones point to an attack, and consult cybersecurity experts in San Diego County for advanced security services.

At each organization, there are different attack indicators. Suspicious activity signs, for instance, can be seen when looking at a social networking app's login pages:

  • An unusual spike in login attempts
  • Resetting passwords
  • Account creation from the same IP address

     2.   Defend Against Bot Attacks.

Users of sophisticated security software can specify parameters and predetermined signals to separate genuine users from bots. In addition, organizations can tailor their defenses against well-known bots and IPs using a potent combination of thresholding, sophisticated rules, and preset blocklists. Before harmful traffic reaches the app origin or API endpoint, rulesets filter and block all incoming traffic.


Security systems find bot software more difficult to detect than worm programs. This is because worms propagate automatically and unpredictably, frequently producing significant data traffic that network monitoring security equipment can see.

Additionally, bots are beginning to operate on TCP/IP port 80, reserved for HTTP-based Web traffic. Because these bots resemble web traffic, security systems have difficulty identifying them as malicious software.