Web Site Security and Marketers Should be Cautious.
Edward Roberts, Director of Product Marketing at Distil Networks, says “Many marketers assume website security is not their problem. However, as the stewards of their organization’s external brand, marketers must understand how the brand is impacted by activity on the website. This includes malicious bot traffic that could deteriorate the user experience and skew analytics”.
The article as quoted on MTA (martechadvisor.com) “It all began in January 2017, when Peter found a gift card on the road that someone must have dropped accidentally. He took it home and entered the 18-digit number on the retailer’s gift card balance check web page, which revealed that the gift card had a balance of $100 on it. Free money! Peter then guessed to himself, “How can they be so stupid?” But they were.
Peter is not your normal web user – he created and handles a botnet, a network of thousands of computers placed all over the world that he hires out to hackers and fraudsters to convey all kinds of nefarious activities. The botnet can be used to steal miles from users airline accounts, break into customers’ e-commerce accounts and buy goods with the credit card on file, post restaurant reviews with spam and malware, and skin prices and content from so many websites.
The crazy part is bad bot operators are not stealing the contents of a private database or looking for security vulnerabilities. They simply exploit the business logic of your website.
In the case of the gift card heist, fraudsters deploy Peter’s botnet on hundreds of retail websites to test millions of potential gift card numbers per hour, requesting the balance for each one and selling those with money on them on the dark web. The retailers and gift card owners are none the wiser until the money is gone.
Unfortunately, this story is an everyday occurrence, as there are scores of malicious bot operators like Peter all over the world, available for hire by anyone looking to exploit a digital scam.
What does this have to do with marketing?
Your website is the window into your business. Marketers spend hours writing copy, designing pages, determining calls-to-action and exhaustively looking at metrics in order to optimize the user experience. Any information about how a customer interacts with your website is treated like gold dust, and company-wide decisions are made every day based upon this marketing insight, with the belief that they are “listening to the customer.”
Half of all internet traffic consists of bots. This means that when you make business decisions deemed as “listening to the customer,” only half of the data actually comes from real human customers.
Here are just a few ways that bad bot activity impacts websites and why marketers should care.
• Competitive price scraping
• Bad SEO ranking
• Digital ad fraud
• Marketing promotion fraud
• Credential stuffing
• Account hijacks
• Fake reviews
In an increasingly digital world, where all online traffic is not what it seems, perhaps a fifth P is required – Protection. Every business must protect the integrity of its web traffic. It affects your business every day. Cleaner website traffic means less fraud, better user experience, and better decision-making by marketing.
Kevin Jones951 Posts
Kevin Jones, Ph.D., is a research associate and a Cyber Security Author with experience in Penetration Testing, Vulnerability Assessments, Monitoring solutions, Surveillance and Offensive technologies etc. Currently, he is a freelance writer on latest security news and other happenings. He has authored numerous articles and exploits which can be found on popular sites like hackercombat.com and others.