Are you an owner of a website or a webmaster? The chances are that you have heard of automated scripts masquerading as legitimate users online. If so, you need to have an in-depth understanding of what bots are, how they come across your site, and what they can intentionally or unintentionally do to harm your online marketing efforts. To protect your website’s speed, security and users, blocking bots is necessary. Bots can be malicious or legitimate. The attackers use malicious bots to target your site and perform various criminal acts like credential stuffing and DDoS attacks. Do you have a gut reaction that you are a victim of a bot attack? To determine whether there are bots, you need to do a thorough investigation on your site.
Places You Can Look To Block Bots
Below are places to check to block bots or determine whether it is worth your effort and time in investing in blocking them.
- The web server logs to determine the source of the traffic
- Analytics services like google analytics to investigate your site’s traffic, and
- Plagiarism checkers like Copyscape to verify whether they have copied your content on other websites.
How To Block Bots From Affecting Your Website
Nowadays, with machine learning and artificial intelligence, bots are more intelligent and their behaviors more human-like. Therefore, trying to block them from coming to your site can be quite a herculean task akin to putting up an invisible shield to wade off the attackers from your site. Blocking the bots from reaching and affecting your site is more about taking proactive measures and instituting mechanisms and processes ahead of the effects of the bot attack. To effectively block them, you need to clearly understand what a bot is, remove any precious incidence of bot manifestation, and prepare for attacks that may arise in the future. Below are the steps that you can take to block bots.
Identify The Magnitude Of The Problem
Before getting your hands off and starting taking a bot attack, it is good to consider what is happening with your website. Is there a significant rise in bot activity, or is it an important problem?
The bot traffic may be a result of good bots. Taking steps to block them can harm your online marketing efforts. Therefore, it is always good to consider which type of bot you are dealing with and what effect blocking them has on your website monetization efforts. If you experience a spike in network traffic on a webpage that you cannot link to a marketing campaign that promoted it, that surge may have come from a bot. Such an issue might not warrant the use of extreme reactions.
Conversely, if you determine that parts of your website are no longer functioning correctly because they are infected or you were hacked, swift action to clean your website is necessary. All measures to protect customer data and web content need to be taken.
Determine The Source Of The Bots
After realizing that bots have affected your website, it makes sense to investigate their origin next. Analyzing the source of the traffic using analytics services like google analytics can help you figure out where the bots are coming from. You can also individually examine and inspect the traffic for patterns like the repeated use of the same IP.
Devise a plan
Have you suffered from a bot attack? It would be best to patch any vulnerabilities that may exist in your system and clear the problem. Take measures to prevent a further attack. If the attack has not taken place yet, but there is a spike in bot activity, plan to identify the loopholes that the bots can exploit to launch an attack.
Ensure That Your Online Infrastructure Is Up-To-Date
One easy way to block bots is to ensure that your online infrastructure has the latest software releases. You must install current platform releases on the CRM that your website uses to protect you from bots and other malicious actors. Does your website use WordPress? Ensure that the installed plugins and theme have the latest updates.
There are many advantages to having the latest releases. The bots may leverage older versions of applications to access your website. Such platforms are motivated to ensure the security of their customers by giving them updated systems. Increased security features may come with the latest updates. They may include blocker options for bots.
Using CAPTCHA Tools
Ensuring only humans can interact with your website and online infrastructure is a sure way to block bots. They are notorious for filling forms like contact pages and sign-up pages.
A CAPTCHA challenge is an easy enough test that a human being can perform efficiently but is complicated by another computer (Bot). Through CAPTCHA, a system forces the user to perform a challenge to determine if they are human or bot. Care should be taken to ensure that CAPTCHAs solution is not kept in the HTML mark-up because the bot can scrape it.
Check API And Other Connections
Is your website old? The chances are that you may have many API integrations and connections to other platforms installed. APIs that may connect and share data with your website can be a vulnerability. Therefore, thoroughly audit every API, connection, and plugin. If you do not use all of them, close the obsolete ones. Update them if they are not the latest versions and replace them if they are of inferior quality.
Blocking Older Browser Versions
Blocking older browser versions can help in blocking bots from affecting your website. According to TechRepublic, this method forces users to update their browsers to newer versions. It protects them not only from bots but also from other threats. You can accomplish this by accessing and updating the .htaccess file on your website. It may require the services of a developer.
Bot Blocker Services
These are long-term solutions to blocking bots. They use current technologies like machine learning and pattern recognition to protect your online infrastructure. Bot blocking services can give you peace of mind because their integrated solution lives on your website upon subscription. Those solutions additionally offer services like botnet protection, protection from account takeover, and other malicious activities.
Because of an increase in the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in marketing, the discussion on bots and their effect on online marketing will increase. The impact of malicious bots may overshadow the fact that there are good bots that help digital marketing. Do not let these vulnerabilities linger and invite malicious, opportunistic bots. Invest in a bot protection solution to block these bots.
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