Last week on the SSLs blog, we discussed bots: what they are and what they’re used for. While many bots can be massively useful, they can also be designed for nefarious purposes. To combat the latter, many website owners undertake a strategy known as bot management.
In this article, we’ll describe bot management and how to add it to your site. But first, a quick reminder of what a bot is.
A bot is an application programmed to carry out specific, automated processes. Accounting for nearly 40% of Internet traffic, bots carry out all sorts of tasks, from engaging in customer service chats to crawling websites to collect information for search engines. On the negative side, bots can be programmed to perform malicious actions like stealing content and user data as well as execute cyberattacks, such as spamming, DDoS attacks, and phishing attempts.
This is why bot management is necessary for protecting websites from becoming targets of malicious bots.
What is bot management?
Bot management is a means of monitoring and controlling bot activity on a website. Instead of outright banning all bots, which would not be good for any website, bot management helps to distinguish between good bot activity and bad bot activity so that good bots, like search engine web crawlers, will still be allowed to access a website. Meanwhile, malicious bots are blocked from the website altogether.
A good bot manager uses a combination of machine learning technologies, algorithms and web application firewalls to analyze visitor behavior and learn trustworthy and untrustworthy website visitors, first by differentiating human and bot traffic, and then good bots and bad bots. The bot manager should be able to identify bad bot IP addresses and block them accordingly while adding good bots to allow lists. A bot manager may also use a challenge-based approach, such as CAPTCHA verification, to identify bot traffic.
How to implement bot management
The most straightforward way to implement bot management is to add a bot manager software solution to your site. Bot manager software can vary in extensiveness and price point, so what you choose is dependent on your needs and budget.
On the free side of things, there are several WordPress plugins available, such as the Booter bots and crawler manager, and StopBadBots. Popular paid bot management options include GeeTest, radware Bot Manager, and Akamai bot manager.
Bots may not be on the top of your mind when it comes to securing your website, but they should at least be on your radar. With more bot traffic than ever on the World Wide Web, make sure you’re allowing for the good while blocking the bad by implementing a bot manager on your site.