Bots are either good or bad depending on well, who you ask. It can be the slight edge a site needs to emerge tops over a competing website for the search engines’ top real estate. It could also be the cog in the wheel for an e-commerce site from reaching their revenue potential.
For a long time, bots – also called web crawlers – have been designed to foster positive online experience, organize information online for the greater good. A case in point is the search engines and their spiders (bots) which gather data for ranking purposes.
However, as the Internet advances and more and more businesses move online, malicious bots have begun to surface for the purpose of real-time competition monitoring, unethical data gathering, unfortunately, these nefarious activities posed a considerable risk for online businesses.
At the top of likely sites for bot attacks are the e-commerce websites. So as an online store owner, it’s essential to understand the risk bots pose for your business and to learn how to protect your online assets from these malicious attacks.
So, if you’re ready, here’re potential channels these bots might be sabotaging your online efforts.
Competitive intelligence gathering
One widespread use of bad bots is to spy on competitor sites; scrape real-time price data and automatically update one’s price to underprice the competitor competitively.
Competitive espionage is aimed at compiling time-sensitive data that can be used to undercut them in their offerings, deals, and or promotions.
Malicious bot attacks (usually referred to as Botnet) can be targeted at the checkouts where the bots add several products to the cart, depleting the available products.
This can be quite frustrating for both the real buyers and business owner since one doesn’t get to buy the product, while for the site owners, it’s a lost business; hence impacting the revenue.
There are bad bots that are deployed by their operators to scan websites for vulnerabilities. Once, a site with a security flaw is found, they’re targeted either to scrape sensitive data or to gain unauthorized access to the site.
The aim of the malicious attack might be a complete takeover of the site, data mining or just to deface the website. These attacks adversely affect the site causing it to lose customers, lose sensitive data, and struggle with negative brand reputation.
For e-commerce that runs an affiliate program, bots can be targeted to click on ads without a corresponding conversion; this, of course, hurts the ad spend.
It’s also, a recipe for destroying trusts between partners which might have taken years to build.
Scraping unique content
Duplicate content is severely punished by search engines which in extreme cases could even lead to SEO penalties.
Bots, crawl sites, copy their content and distribute same to other sites on the web. Not only does this hurt the e-commerce SEO, but the reputation of the site is also at stake, and if not handled properly could lead to a loss of trust by customers.
Several cards are tested by the bot after automatically submitting an order in the hope of stumbling on a valid one.
A site under this kind of attack notices a significant spike in traffic and an increase in transaction disputes and chargeback costs.
Imagine it’s one of those online peaks shopping season, say, a Black Friday or a Cyber Monday. You are primed and ready for the increase in traffic, you’ve carried out an intensive campaign to create awareness of the hot deals you have on offer.
On the D-day, your website crashed, or perhaps, the server couldn’t handle the increased traffic, hence slowing page load speed.
Remember, 47 percent of customers expect pages to load within 2 seconds and 40 percent will abandon a site with more than 3 seconds of load time. So, you can see how this impacts your revenue.
Bots, targeted at e-commerce can cause devastating damage to sales by limiting the server resources, slowing download speed, and mess up the user experience.
How to protect your site
First, realize that bot attack is a priority security risk for your website regardless of how big or small it is.
Next, a quick search online will throw up several countermeasures you can implement to beef up your site security.
So, there you have it, 7 ways bad bots can wreak havoc on e-commerce sites. Go out there and safeguard your online asset from malicious attacks.