Malicious Bots Account for Approximately 30 Percent of Internet Traffic

Cloud-based website security and performance service Incapsula released its annual Bot Traffic Report in mid-Dec. and if you're an advertiser, you should be really, really worried. That may be an understatement actually - you may just want to freeze your ad spend altogether by the sounds of it.

Bots (which, as you may know, are often used to create comments on blogs and forums, srape content and steal customer data) are acting as the majority of visitors to websites of all sizes, at 56 percent, and are 80.5 percent of traffic to small websites with less than 1,000 daily visitors. Most alarming, however, is a 10 percent increase in malicious bot activity, which now accounts for almost 30 percent of all traffic on Incapsula-protected websites.

Other terrifying report findings (available as an infographic here) include:

+ Bot traffic varies by website size: Small sites (1,000 visits/day) see 80.5 percent bots, medium sites (10,000 visits/day) 63.2 percent, large sites (100,000 visits/day) 56.2 percent, and very large sites (1M+ visits/day) 52.3 percent.

+ Comparing the period covered by this report with the previous period, among malicious bots, impersonators have increased by 10 percent, while hacking tools are down to 3.5 percent, and scraping bots are up 3 percent. Spam bots held steady at 0.5 percent.

+ Good bot traffic is down by 4 percent, likely due to the broad decrease in RSS bot activity.

"We have been conducting this study since 2012, and one constant in our findings is that malicious bots are becoming increasingly sophisticated and harder to distinguish from humans. These bots pose a huge threat to websites and are capable of large-scale hack attacks, DDoS floods, spam schemes and click fraud campaigns," said Marc Gaffan, CEO of Incapsula. "With the vulnerabilities exposed in the past year, notably Shellshock, it is more important than ever that companies operating websites are diligent in securing their sites from malicious traffic."