Beware of the Bots in the Process of Digital Transformation
Not all of the bots are good. In fact, 29% of website traffic comes from malicious bots — and about 41% of malicious bots enter a website network posing as humans.
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Did you actually think that Bots are smart? If so, you are wrong. They are super smart and can be maliciously intelligent at times, as well. Bots can be fascinating as well as frustrating, depending on their application in the concerned business realm. They can be an enabling factor on the consumer side and can answer some deep-rooted queries on the business front, as well. Bots are being increasingly used in applications to make them more smart and receptive to growing consumer demands. But then, how safe are they or this question never occurred to you?
There are some bots that are built only to scrape, steal, and put some key business processes to a standstill. Studies suggest that today, bots are commanding the majority of the traffic on the internet. Tracking companies and research firms have estimated that almost 52% of internet traffic today is non-human, whereas 29% of website traffic comes from malicious bots — and about 41% of malicious bots enter a website network posing as humans.
Now that's scary!
This definitely doesn't seem to be good news for businesses that are being increasingly inclined toward digital transformation. Bots are being used for various tricky activities. They can be very well compared to the Autobots (the blue-eyed saviors of the human race) and the Decepticons, the red-eyed monsters who will bring havoc to the humans. It could be in the form of sudden spikes in traffic on a website, unexpected downtime, performance issues, or a data breach. It can take any form and leave a nasty surprise for you.
Why You Need to Build Mechanisms to Safeguard From Bad Bots
When bots attack applications on-premises, they can enable outages and hike up costs related to the application's development and maintenance. For instance, many applications are being deployed on licensed platforms, and whenever a new instance is recorded, it incurs further costs. These costs could also be associated with bandwidth. Bots can even attack in a cloud set-up, where the costs associated with the bandwidth could soar.
The truth of the matter is that bots are going to be ruling the application development scene in the near future. Hence, enterprises need to build mechanisms to save themselves from these trouble-makers. It can cost businesses a great deal of monetary as well as reputation loss, despite the bright results delivered by various digital transformation initiatives.
Knowing that the situation might get scarier, there is a need to build robust mechanisms to ensure that your applications are safeguarded against the growing number of bots in the digital orbit. Security testing, quality assurance, test automation, penetration testing, vulnerability assessment, regression testing — there is a lot that can be recommended to devise a relevant approach for this. However, in such cases, the approach has to be focused.
The core idea is how to protect your business-critical applications against the intrusion of malicious bots.
Focus on Assessing the Vulnerabilities and Look Inwards
Vulnerability assessment is mainly implemented to define, identify, and segment the security loopholes (vulnerabilities) in a computer, network, or communications infrastructure. It is a risk management approach that enables organizations to prioritize expected vulnerabilities or any threats within an application. This is a must-do analysis to understand where the gaps are and accordingly plan the next steps and strategies.
To summarize, some of the key highlights of vulnerability assessment are that it helps you to detect programming errors that can result in cyber-attacks, it provides a systematic approach for risk management, and it secures the IT networks from internal as well as external attacks. Additionally, it helps you garner higher RoI on IT security investments over a period of time. On the whole, this implies that VA helps to bring down the chances of any external attacks.
Scan Your Application's Profile
What does a profile imply? It refers to a collection of a good amount of comprehensive datasets from the application that would represent the overall application — URLs, libraries, values of cookies, categories of uploads, etc. This helps you create a baseline and obstructs anything that comes from outside the baseline, tagging it as a threat or creating an attack to block it.
Restrict Your Exposure
It can work effectively if you limit your exposure by pulling down any expected attacks via processes such as GeoIP fencing. In this way, traffic coming on specific geographies can be obstructed apart from the one coming specifically from the customer base. You can even define routes and workflows to prevent automated bot attacks from accessing URLs or executing aggressive attacks.
Erase Every Input and Encrypt Cookies
Assume that any kind of data coming from any source should be treated as unclean and malicious. In order to avoid any unforeseen hassles, it is important that you eliminate anything that seems like program logic or comes across as a probing factor. The cleaning could be complex and might need searching and eliminating specific characters that could result in vulnerabilities. A strong firewall policy can help in this case. With an alternate attempt, you can even encrypt all cookies. Cookies were introduced to be reliable for websites and collect relevant information. However, it can cause issues if a bot decides to go on to the website server and intrude into the information collected. When you encrypt the contents of the cookies, there is an assurance that only the application can read the contents of the cookies.
Bots can be absolutely effective to support customer communication and enable enterprises to get more and more efficient by automating certain processes. However, knowing their capabilities, the stakes are very high. It is inevitable for enterprises to build a good security testing and QA strategy to safeguard their applications from any kind of attacks that could be triggered by a bot.
Published at DZone with permission of Hiren Tanna, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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