Many companies have become vulnerable to automated bot attacks as a result of the rush to meet consumer needs online in 2020. Here’s a closer look at some of the lesser-known threats, as well as what IT leaders can do to help companies defend themselves from potential threats.
Every year, the companies that control our society transfer more of their operations online, continuing a decades-long digital transformation. For the most part, this change has been gradual, with organisations going online only when they were ready. Until 2020, that is.
Both prepared or not, the COVID-19 pandemic forced almost all companies to become online businesses. Businesses, on the other hand, that move quickly can leave them vulnerable to security threats. And some of today’s online attacks, which are conducted by armies of programmed internet robots that imitate human behaviour, or bots, can pose a greater risk to your company than you might have expected.
“Many companies concentrate on the types of attacks that are often in the news rather than the attacks that can inflict the most financial harm.” — State Of Online Fraud And Bot Management, Forrester Consulting
Most companies focus their online security strategies on avoiding the most well-known and infamous online threats, such as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack or a data breach. However, de-risking your online company entails more than just avoiding the most heinous of disasters. Your security plan must also resolve less obvious threats that may not be on your radar but have the potential to have a significant effect on your company. We’ll look at three examples of these threats, as well as how to detect and protect against them, in the sections below.
1. Small-scale fraud poses a significant danger.
Front-line frameworks that protect an application from well-known attacks such as SQL injection or DDoS are no longer sufficient. DDoS encryption, web application firewalls (WAFs), and content delivery networks (CDNs) are now standard security features. Full-time con artists, on the other hand, did not abandon their trade just because the world shifted. They’re just as committed to their art as you are to your business. And, just as the company has grown to meet the demands of the times, so have fraudsters.
For most companies, the unaccounted-for danger is falling prey to attacks that take advantage of the application’s logic. Bots that search out any weakness or vulnerability in your organization’s online presence carry out these attacks, which are smaller in size, automated, and difficult to detect. Even if you have DDoS security, a Web Application Firewall, or a Content Delivery Network in place, you can still be vulnerable to this new threat vector.
2. The dangers of ecommerce
Consider a big retailer that used to do much of its business in person but now has a digital distribution platform as well. Many businesses like this have worked to shift the bulk of their operations online as a result of COVID-19. Their checkout pages, which include forms for credit card details and personal information, are ripe for theft.
“Right now, companies are playing whack-a-mole with bot management. “Fraud response teams fail to keep up with the scale of threats, according to 56 percent of decision-makers.” — State Of Online Fraud And Bot Management, Forrester Consulting
Bots will fill online shopping carts with products and then abandon them in order to test the security of the checkout process, decreasing the amount of inventory available to actual customers. They’ll use stolen credentials from another site to spam login attempts on a sign-in page. They’ll scrape the store’s entire website for information that can be used to make fraudulent loans, credit cards, or other types of identification applications. Alternatively, they could use the scraped data to build a clone of the site in an effort to dupe consumers into providing their own payment information, thus tarnishing the real business’s credibility.
3. Damage to one’s reputation
Fraud costs companies between 1 and 10% of their annual sales. Bot-based fraud has an effect on more than just the bottom line. When more of your company moves online, so do more of your customer interactions, which means your IT team will have to spend more time defending against automated bot attacks or fixing broken application logic.
This diverts the IT team’s attention away from more critical and satisfying jobs, which can have a detrimental effect on both company and employee morale. Your customer service staff must deal with angry customers who are unable to purchase items because inventory is inaccessible or payments are unable to be processed, and your support reps can become frustrated by issues they can’t solve. And it hurts your brand, retention, and confidence when consumers are stumped just trying to connect with your website.
Taking the next step: 4 ways to make bot management programs more effective
The truth is that the vast majority of companies are unprepared to protect against bot attacks if they can even identify them. You do not know how vulnerable you are to smaller, more popular attacks like bot fraud if your online risk reduction plan is solely based on protecting against the largest—but rarest—types of attacks.
According to this Forrester Consulting report commissioned by Google, there are four main things you can do as an IT leader to protect your company from bot attacks, future-proof your market, and drive progress in your bot management programmes:
1. To break down organizational silos, use the bot challenge. To understand your organization’s bot risk and enumerate criteria for a bot management solution, bring these various teams together. Ensure the marketing and eCommerce teams alert protection and fraud teams about upcoming promotions and sales activities that could result in bot attacks. Send weekly and ad hoc reports to all parties involved on bot patterns and specific bot incidents.
2. Make the switch to a comprehensive bot management system. Look for a bot management solution that can detect even the most advanced bots, keep up with bots as they develop to avoid detection, and respond with a variety of responses to deflect attacks. Consider how your preferred approach can affect your customers’ experience, and avoid causing unnecessary friction in legitimate customer interactions. Look for solutions that allow your internal team to see bot traffic in real-time and respond quickly to bot attacks.
3. Expand bot defenses to counter a wider range of potential threats. Check that your bot management solution can handle the full spectrum of bot-based threats, and include bots in your risk assessments. Review your applications’ content, products, and services at least once a quarter to see if there are any that could be attractive bot targets.
4. Keep the consumer and employee experience in mind at all times. Keep a close eye on false positives and consumer usage metrics, and check them weekly to ensure that challenging issues aren’t driving customers away. Simultaneously, keep track of the number of bot incidents and internal response costs to see how your bot management implementation is reducing the number of incidents and the amount of time the team spends remediating them.
If your company is one of the few that has successfully adapted to big changes in the way it serves customers, you’ve already accomplished something remarkable. However, now that online business has become your primary mode of operation, you must protect yourself from the new and more common risks that come with this interaction model.
The COVID-19 pandemic will eventually end, but the threats to online businesses will continue. To keep up with the evolution of fraud, your risk strategy must change as well.