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Short Story: The Truth About Internet Users and Robots

Are you human or bot?

Updated on July 13, 2021: From now on, traffic filtering, malware protection, and suspicious DNS activity blocking are available as a part of the separate DNS Firewall app.

Written by Allen Jame

Have you ever witnessed a lot of user traffic on your website? Well, not all of it is 100% genuine. It also consists of fake traffic that comes from a variety of sources.

Some of this traffic is used for spreading malware online, too, thus hackers can use it to steal your data. To know about some more cyber criminal activities that can compromise your personal information online, read here. In this article, you will know about the artificial online traffic.

Some of the main points covered in this article are:

  • Internet traffic stats
  • Fake users
  • Proxy traffic
  • Web crawlers
  • New web-based services
  • Google bots
  • Click-bots
  • Social networking bots
  • Bots for commercial purpose
  • Bots for malicious purpose
  • Bots for captcha

Internet Traffic Stats

  • Of the total internet traffic, 61.5% are the non-human traffic.

Robot waving his 'hand'

  • Among these, 31% are the search engine and other good bots.
  • 5% are scrappers.
  • 4.5% are the hacking tools.
  • 0.5% are the spammers, and 20.5% include other impersonators.

Impersonators are the unclassified bots with hostile intentions. They can be automatic spy bots, too.

Bots and Fake User Traffic Online

A large chunk of your internet traffic comprises of robots that visit your site without any approval from you. They can include:

  • Fake user accounts created on social networking sites and forums.
  • Spam bots, e.g. those commenting on blog posts.
  • Fake traffic coming from proxy URLs.

More on these types below:

1) Fake Users:

Some of the big social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all fighting with fraudulent use of their services. But among these, some account blockage threats end up affecting the legitimate fake user accounts too.

For example, you have a Facebook page. You can view the page as an admin but what if you intend to create a FB account to check how it looks to other people? This inevitably comes under a legitimate use of a fake account. Luckily, then a VPN software solved this specific issue. It gave account owners the ability to view their pages and sites from the perspective of other users. Which brings us to the next unit…

2) VPN Traffic:

Seeing how popular VPNs have become, their traffic can be used for both lawful and evil purposes.

  • Most people use VPNs to avoid IP tracking and circumvent location-based content blocking.
  • It can also be used to test the geo-dependent services, like marketing ads.
  • You can use VPN to bypass blocking of social networks.
  • Alas, hackers sometimes use this technology too, to hide the source of DDoS attacks and other hacks.

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3) Web Crawlers:

Search engines use web crawls to check the internet for new or updated websites and indexate them. Web crawlers are often referred to as the bread and butter of online services. Well, this not only comes under a legitimate use, but it is also, in fact, a necessary use. On the other hand, there have been occasions of malicious web crawlers that ignore search engine directives while indexing pages – these ones remain invisible to the public too.

4) Bots:

An internet bot is also called a web robot or a WWW robot. It is a software application that is used to run automated scripts over the internet. A robot.txt file on a web hosting contains rules and other details regarding the governing of their behavior a website.

Good and Bad Bots

Robot share in internet traffic

Due to the evolution of web-based services, new types of bots have stepped into the pool. Nowadays, the internet consists of both good and bad bots of various kinds. The central question that arises here is that with the increasing influence on website traffic by bots it becomes difficult to tell how much of the traffic is valuable and how much of it is just blank noise.

If you are a website owner or run any online ads, then these bots can be a source of significant interference in your campaigns:

A) Google Bots:

Search engine bots play an important role. They monitor your site to check if everything is working correctly. If you block any of them, then your site might get disappear from the search results completely. This will inevitably cause the loss of its traffic as people won’t be able to find it.

B) Click-Bots:

These bots target the PPC ads on search engines and websites. They can be used to earn from the third-party network by fraudulent means – by artificially winding up the ads’ performance.

C) Social Networking Bots:

They are the set of algorithms that perform a repetitive set of instructions for establishing a connection between social network users.

D) Bots For Commercial Purpose:

Robots working in an office While most bots have some form of commercial use, there are also those that are designed primarily as a source of income:

Bot farms are used in online commerce. For one, Apple app store and Google play store bots can be used to manipulate products’ ratings and positions.

  • Different companies create bots to increase the engagement on their sites.
  • Chat-bots are used in customer services, too.

E) Bots For Malicious Purpose:

They can be used to make automated attacks on companies and individuals:

  • Spambots using the email addresses found on contact pages.
  • Special programs have been made that suck the bandwidth by downloading the entire site.
  • Web scrapers are used to reuse the content of the different site without their permission and create automatically generated pages.

F) Bots For Captcha:

These services are used in captcha that is a type of Turing test which differentiates between the spamming bot and a human.

Final Words:

If you think that internet comprises only of human that browse the web and search for different content or deals, then you are wrong. There are plenty of online robots that do all sorts of things, bad and good. Well, because of the latter, it is quite difficult to block these bots without blocking the beneficial traffic. To know how they affect your site or the ad campaign is the first thing to figure out their actual quantity and types. Now that you are aware of them, you are on your way to solving this problem.

Allen Jame is a web developer by profession and a blogger by passion. Allen loves reading and writing blogs.

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