From the first chatbot in the 1960s, bots have evolved significantly. Bots are programs that were created for specific tasks such as automating repetitive tasks, carrying out and simulating human behaviour. Today, they make up over half of the total online traffic. However, it is a challenge to tell the destructive, bad bots apart from the good ones.
In this article, we look at one such notorious bot known as the sneaker bot, and how to detect, block, and manage them.
What Exactly are Sneaker Bots and Who Uses Them?
For those of you who aren’t sneakerheads or sneaker retailers, the term sneaker bot might not ring a bell. You might already know that a bot is an automated software application that is designed to carry out specific tasks. A sneaker bot is a type of bot that is used to autocomplete the purchasing process of limited-edition sneakers. Although sneaker bots are largely known for being a menace in the shoe business, their use isn’t limited to this industry. They can be used to buy any product that is in limited stock or restricted to certain geographical locations such as concert tickets, luxury goods, consumer electronics, and gaming systems.
What do Sneaker Bots Do?
Sneaker bots can mimic real human shoppers online and at a faster pace. These bots work by scanning the retailer websites for important information like prices, and inventory stock, or live URLs that haven’t been made public. Bot users simply need to input information such as their payment details, shipping address, and product URLs into the software and the bots then carry out the entire purchase effortlessly and within minutes on the day of the release. The most common types of sneaker bots include scraping bots, scalping bots, footprinting bots, denial of inventory bots, account creation bots, account takeover bots, and cashing out bots.
The Impact Bad Bots Can Have on Your Business
Why have sneaker bots become the nightmare of every sneaker retailer?
Bots are used to snag limited-edition sneakers for resale at a much higher price than the original retail price. This has led to a flourishing secondary market for sneakers where they’re sold for thousands of dollars when the retailers sell them for a price of a few hundred dollars. Resellers flood retailer websites with their bots, using duplicate entries and hoarding inventory to buy the sneakers before the average customer can buy them.
For example, during the recent release of the much-awaited ‘Travis Scott x Fragment x Air Jordan 1 Low’ sneakers, nearly 3 million bots were caught trying to make a purchase on the launch website. Bot invasions like these can have some devastating impacts on your business.
Wastage of Time
Battling the effects of rapidly multiplying sneaker bots requires a lot of time. Security experts often have to spend hours fixing the damages caused by these bots. This can include the reconfiguration of cloud services, tuning firewalls, dialling up and down of the bandwidth, and creating special scripts to block-out incoming bots. Customer service teams may also have to spend a considerable amount of time trying to calm down customers that didn’t get what they wanted.
Reputational Damage and Loss of Customers
When customers don’t get what they want from your website, they’re going to look for it on other sites. A bad shopping experience or the failure to reach customer demands can mean that they might not come back to your site for future purchases. And chances are, they won’t recommend you to their contacts either.
Bots take up huge amounts of bandwidth and can cause your site to collapse. Site owners need to spend large sums of money on CDN services, extra server capacity, and extra bandwidth to handle this load. Additionally, brands lose revenue due to the lost customers and potential customers when bots buy the product before the customers can.
So, how can you avoid these consequences?
Detecting sneaker bots is not easy.
Sneaker bots are known to evade the security measures that are put in place to detect them. Most good sneaker bots can easily solve CAPTCHA challenges and can easily bypass other security measures. In addition, advanced bots also use residential IP addresses to fool security solutions into thinking that a real human is trying to buy the sneakers. These bots are also very good at simulating real human behaviour like mouse movements, and keystrokes. Sometimes, they even draw out the purchasing process to make it seem like a real buyer is behind the purchase.
Sneaker bots are continuously evolving. Bot developers are constantly keeping up with the latest detection mechanisms to dodge security measures and use innovative methods to attack websites during sneaker launches. Your defence against these bots needs to be equally sophisticated and dynamic.
The Solution — Bot Mitigation and Management
As you are now aware that bots are advancing each day and blocking them is a complex task, choose a bot mitigation solution that uses cutting-edge technology and provides comprehensive, and managed protection against bad bots.
How Indusface helps you to detect, block, and mitigate malicious bots
Indusface’s AppTrana is the perfect solution that provides a comprehensive Bot Protection Solution to beat bad bots online. It uses AI/ML technologies in combination with human intelligence to effectively study bot behaviour, highlight anomalies, and block out malicious bots from taking down your website. Some of AppTrana’s detection capabilities include techniques such as:
- Good Bot Pretender Detection: AppTrana blocks out malicious bots, including the bad bots that try to impersonate good ones.
- Heuristics and Integrity Checks: AppTrana uses heuristics to study bot patterns and uses a wide range of integrity checks to identify bots.
- Fingerprinting and JS (Java Script) detections: If suspicious traffic is detected, JS challenges are used to identify bots from actual human users.
Once a bad bot is detected, immediate mitigation actions are taken automatically. In cases of anomalies, our security experts analyse the results themselves and take appropriate action.
Bots — good and bad, are all over the internet. When it comes to something as lucrative as sneaker bots, hackers are going to keep developing them to beat the security measures. So, the more advanced your security controls are, the harder and more expensive it is for an attacker to try and bypass them. Invest in an effective bot mitigation solution to avoid bad bots online.
For more cybersecurity features and news, follow Indusface on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
Originally published at https://www.indusface.com on November 3, 2021.