The Difference Between DDoS Bots and Other Bad Bots

An e-commerce customer had a cyber security problem on hand. Every major sale they held on their website was taken over by bots that would buy all the sale items, depriving legitimate customers of the opportunity to purchase these goods (carrying heavy losses for the retailer). The company believed these to be DDoS bots and wanted a solution. But were these DDoS bots? The customer was partially correct, as bots are used in DDoS attacks – they are the mechanisms for facilitating attacks on computer networks or applications. To that extent, they were right in assuming that bots were involved.


Since bots became a household name, they have been used to describe most automated tasks. Their growth in popularity can be attributed to the digital world, where consumers demand personalized and immersive experiences 24/7. This need has paved the way for assistance in the form of bots that help humans by taking over repetitive tasks.

While good bots are taking on several important roles to maximize customer satisfaction, such as chatbots, social bots, shop bots, and so forth, there is a growing threat to cybersecurity from bad bots.

Bad bots mimic human workflows across web applications to `behave’ like human users. Bad bots are taking over the cyber world and account for nearly one-quarter of all internet traffic. Cybercriminals use email to cause various hacking and fraud challenges for companies. For example, hackers steal web content using bad bots that crawl and copy the entire site. They use this stolen content to create fake sites, making them appear legitimate sites to trick and cheat visitors.

Another challenge bad bots create for businesses is by using a technique called price scraping. Bots are released on websites to search, find, and copy pricing information. Competitors can use this information to undercut the prices. Bad bots can upset the overall security and brand reputation when used for price scraping. Bots are used for content scrap, stealing content to harvest confidential data such as customers’ personal and financial data.

Bots also interact with log-in forms to access sites that require usernames and passwords. This form of attack is often referred to as `credential stuffing.

Essentially, bad bots can disrupt businesses by affecting performance and revenue. Than to undermine businesses amongst competitors, tarnish the brand image, and, finally, customer trust.

What Are DDoS Bots  

  • DDoS Bots are different. They are launched to cause downtime by sending internet traffic to a network in large numbers, eventually causing the site to crash. Their agenda is to cause downtime only – they don’t interact with the system in a complex fashion, don’t change anything, steal nothing (i.e., information), they only cause downtime!
  • A DDoS (“Distributed Denial of Service”) attack has a more distributed attackers base, I,.e. from many source IPs and generally multiple geo-locations. It can be hundreds or thousands of source IPs from where the attack originates.
  • This gives the attacker the advantage of making it more difficult for the targeted victim to mitigate the attack.  An example of a historical DDoS attack from a botnet is the 2016 Dyn attack which was carried out using the Mirai botnet. Organizations such as Twitter, Spotify, GitHub, and Reddit went down. As per Dyn, millions of IP addresses attacked their networking simultaneously. 
  • A DDoS attack of less than one gigabit per second can knock off most organizations. However, recently there have been peak attacks over even one terabit per second. The impact of DDoS attacks on organizations can be devastating, costing enterprises millions of dollars.

Visibility is Key to Protect from DDoS Bots

Ongoing protection is paramount,  but how can you provide continuous protection without having visibility into your dynamic DDoS attack surface? Environments are dynamic, meaning they are constantly changing. So even with the best mitigation solutions in place, they can’t reconfigure their system to protect you better if they’re not informed.

Only by continuously testing all known DDoS attack vectors against all targets, without operational downtime, can organizations discover and remediate unknown DDoS mitigation vulnerabilities for over 200% average improvement in DDoS readiness.

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