Bots are a risk to all industries across the world. However, there have been some that have had particular issues in the past few years and seem to be more at risk. Here are some of the most-at-risk industries and why.
1. Membership Sites
This is a big one and a lot of problems have been reported on memberships sites in the past. Some of the problems include bots replying to messages or searching for potential victims on membership sites. Content can also be automatically created and shared on social features on membership sites, otherwise known as spam.
Membership sites are an attractive target because when criminals can steal information (usernames and password) they can find other services accessible. This is because so many users have the same username and passwords on more than one service.
A few common membership sites include social media channels, dating sites and forums. Dating sites are a particular concern because hackers will sometimes use the information to blackmail users into paying money. They can even add false information into the mix, such as adding in conversations they didn’t have, to encourage payment.
A well known example of this is the Ashley Maddison hack. All user data, both past and present was stolen, and it resulted in criminals trying to extort more than $20 billion from users.
2. Flash Gaming Sites/Betting Sites
Whether it is for flash games, online casinos or betting sites, bots like to target these sites. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, there is often a lot of transfer of data during the use of games, so users tend not to notice when a site is slow or a bot is downloading malware on their site, they often assume it is part of the game.
In addition, on sites where gamers can win something, where visitors tend to ignore potential problems because they are focused on the winning. Sometimes, bots will offer fake game currency for data (like username and password on casino sites) in order to steal that information. Users are often willing to fall for these because they want to believe that they will get something in return.
3. Retail Sites
There are a lot of potential problems for retail sites. First of all, they contain a lot of sensitive customer data. This might include payment details or log in details that can be used on other sites. Under law, this data must be protected, but without the best software, it rarely is very secure. In fact, every month there are thousands of cases across the world of retail, of sites being hacked.
Another problem is bots completing fake purchases on retail sites. This is common when there is a limited stock of a high-value item: like a new designer fashion item. Shoes are a particular concern here. What the bots do is buy all the shoes and then the criminal sells them on eBay or another online site for an inflated price.
This problem isn’t limited to products however. New York has sued companies using bots to buy up tickets to events in the city.
Finally, retail sites are often the target for DoS attacks. This is where a site is taken offline because the site is receiving too many requests.
4. Not-For-Profit Organizations
Criminals seem not to care about those in need. Charities, or not-for-profit organizations, are often targeted by bots because they tend to have slacker security and lots of information about donors. They can use this information to scam donors out of more money by pretending to be the charity. If they have a list of those who are already committed to supporting a cause, they are more likely to give.
Not-for-profit organizations can also contain lists of vulnerable people, like those with mental health issues, that make them more susceptible to scamming. According to statistics, the UK’s charity sector saw 125 breaches in the first three months of 2019, an average of a successful attack per day.
One of the reasons why attacks are so successful is because not-for-profit organizations often struggle for funds, especially smaller causes. This means that they often can’t afford some of the traditional protection.
5. Political/Government Sites
Another common place where bots are targeting is political/government sites. This can include political party servers (like with Hillary Clinton) and government agencies. This can be very worrying as these organizations are supposed to have lots of sensitive information that can threaten the security of the individuals and nations. However, there are lots of examples of data breaches from government agencies.
The worst was when 191 million voters were exposed in 2015. The information included names, data of births, emails, addresses and party affiliations. There was enough information here that hackers could easily scam these people with accurate information. And sadly, this is not the only case.
6. Online Gaming
Finally there is the online gaming industry. This is different to the gaming sites mentioned before. This is related to gaming sites like PlayStation, Xbox and others. PlayStation was hit with a pretty big bot attack in 2014 when at Christmas, a hacking group performed a DDOS attack. This meant gamers couldn’t use game content online, like play Call of Duty.
While this is a minor annoyance for gamers, Sony had a bigger problem. It lost out on revenue due to in-game purchases being unavailable and had to deal with the PR ramifications of being identified as a target. Other attacks can sometimes happen and popular games like Fortnite can sometimes be a target.
Lessons have been learnt and most gaming platforms offer better protection. But criminals are always looking for ways to bypass security and it is only a matter of time before a platform is taken down again.
You might think that your industry is secure from hackers and bots. The truth is, if you have value to the criminals you are a target. The above six industries are those which are often priority targets. This is because they often cause widespread disruption or have a lot of financial value to them.
If you work within these industries, ensure that you’re your keeping your site secure. Protect your business from bad bots to ensure the continuous, successful running of your business.