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Bad Bots a Growing Plague for Retail Websites

Report finds automated threats skyrocket during Black Friday week

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While processing more than 6.8 billion e-commerce requests in November, bad bot detection/prevention firm Kasada said it observed a 23 percent increase in automated threats in the week before Thanksgiving and a 50 percent increase during Black Friday week. Such bots are generally defined as automated programs with a malicious purpose.

The company’s Threat Intelligence Team identified four major cyber threats to retailers this holiday shopping season: scraping attacks, freebie bots, fake account creation and gift card fraud.

Scraping Attacks

The 43 percent increase in scraping attacks leading up to Black Friday was the most prevalent automated threat Kasada observed in November. Rather than target specific product pages, bots indexed entire websites, leading Kasada to believe their goal was to monitor stock and price changes for arbitrage. Scraping is a common reason why websites suffer slow speeds and degraded site performance.

Freebie Bots

Freebie bots leverage automation to scan retail websites for mispriced or discounted goods and purchase them at scale before the error is fixed. Bot operators scored over $1.1 million in products with such bots in November.

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Fake Account Generation

New accounts are typically created by bad actors using free email providers like iCloud and Gmail to create fake accounts and circumvent inventory checks during checkout.

Gift Card Fraud

Throughout the holidays, fraudsters regularly check gift card balances and steal any remaining funds at scale. Kasada has observed a six-fold increase in gift card lookups over the span of a few hours during Black Friday weekend.

For a deeper dive into the problems above, see Kasada’s 2022 Holiday Bad Bot Report.

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