When Bots Attack: Understanding the Impact on Small Businesses Tech 

The world of the internet is vast and ever-growing, with an increasing number of automated programs known as bots operating behind the scenes. These bots can have a significant impact on business technology, especially smaller business tech. In this post, we’ll delve into the world of bots, their purpose, how they operate, and the potential dangers they pose to small businesses. 

Understanding Bots and Their Purpose 

Bots, short for robots, are software applications programmed to perform certain tasks automatically. They’re often designed to mimic human actions, carrying out tasks at high speeds and volumes that would be impossible for humans to achieve. Bots contribute significantly to web traffic; in fact, according to a 2020 report by Imperva, bots accounted for nearly 40% of all internet traffic in 2020. In 2022, it was reported the number had increased to 47%. 2023 numbers are reporting as high as 72%. No matter the exact metric, it’s difficult to argue against the problem. 

There are both good bots and bad bots. Good bots, like search engine crawlers, help index websites and improve their SEO ranking. However, bad bots pose a major threat to businesses as they engage in malicious activities such as creating fake accounts, hacking real accounts, scraping data, and abusing services. 

The Dangers of Bots to Small Businesses 

Bad bots can wreak havoc on small business tech in various ways. They can create fake accounts to spam or scam real users, leading to a loss of trust in the business. They can hack into real accounts to steal sensitive information or carry out fraudulent transactions. Perhaps most worryingly, they can scrape data from websites, stealing valuable content and intellectual property. 

One notable example of this occurred when LinkedIn was scraped by bots in 2014, resulting in the extraction of thousands of user profiles. This kind of scraping can lead to a loss of competitive advantage for businesses, as their unique content and data can be stolen and used by competitors. 

Another prevalent bot activity is the abuse of services or products. Bots can overload servers with requests, leading to server crashes and service downtime. They can also manipulate online polls and reviews, skewing results and damaging a business’s reputation. 

The Scourge of Scraping 

Scraping, the extraction of data from websites by bots, deserves special attention due to its widespread use and serious implications. Social media platforms are particularly vulnerable to scraping, as they contain a wealth of user information that can be exploited for spamming, identity theft, or even political manipulation. 

In 2018, Facebook acknowledged a significant data breach where malicious bots scraped the personal information of up to 87 million users. This kind of breach not only damages the reputation of a platform but also exposes users to potential harm. While this can seem unimportant to a business owner, a compromised employee can indeed be a threat to a business (especially possibly more vulnerable small business tech).

Protecting Your Business 

The threat of bots may seem daunting, but there are measures businesses can take to protect themselves. One effective solution is to enlist the help of managed IT services. These services can help businesses identify and block bad bot traffic, secure network infrastructure, and monitor for potential threats. Additionally, the augmentation of individual security measures such as enforced multi-factor authentication (MFA) can assist in events of password compromise. 

Other strategies include implementing CAPTCHA tests to distinguish between human users and bots, regularly updating and patching software to fix security vulnerabilities, and educating employees about the dangers of bots and how to recognize potential threats. 

In the End…
While bots pose a significant threat to small business tech in various industries, understanding their operations and implementing protective measures can go a long way in securing your business. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and stay safe! If you’re not sure, call us and we’ll get you and your business ready!


Note: This blog post is based on information available as of the latest update and may not account for recent changes in technology or emerging threats. Always consult with a trusted IT professional for personalized advice and solutions. 


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