While We Spend A Lot Of Time On The Net, Most Traffic Is Non-Human
December 13, 2013

While We Spend A Lot Of Time On The Net, Most Traffic Is Non-Human

[ Watch the Video: Bots Surf The Web More Than Humans ]

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Nearly two-thirds of all Internet traffic originates from non-human sources, 60 percent of which are malicious in nature, according to a new report released by online security and bot-tracking firm Incapsula on Monday.

According to the report, 61.5 percent of Web traffic is non-human and just 38.5 percent originates from actual people. Thirty-one percent of the non-human traffic came from search engines and other non-malicious bots, while five percent came from scrapers (bots responsible for content theft and duplication) and 4.5 percent came from hacking tools.

Spammers were responsible for just 0.5 percent of that non-human Internet traffic, while other impersonators (such as marketing intelligence gathering, level 7 DDoS attacks, and bandwidth consumption) comprised 20.5 percent. Overall, automated Web traffic increased from 51 percent in 2012, Incapsula reported.

“Despite the overall growth in bot activity, the firm said that many of the traditional malicious uses of the tools had become less common,” BBC News technology reporter Leo Kelion reported on Thursday. For instance, the company reported a 75-percent decrease in the frequency with which spam links were being posted automatically – a trend attributed to Google’s efforts to make doing so more difficult.

The company also reported observing “a 10 percent drop in hacking tool bot activities, including the use of code to distribute malware, to steal credit cards and to hijack and deface websites,” he added. “However, it noted that there had been an 8 percent rise in the use of ‘other impersonator bots’ – a classification including software that masquerades as being from a search engine or other legitimate agent in order to fool security measures.”

VentureBeat’s Barry Levine said that a sizable portion of this increased bot activity level comes from search engine agents and search engine optimization (SEO) services, which have increased 13 percent over the past year. He added that the trend is expected to continue as Google, Bing and other search engines constantly seek out new information.

“The common denominator for this group is that all of its members are trying to assume someone else's identity,” Incapsula said in its traffic report. “For example, some of these bots use browser user-agents while others try to pass themselves as search engine bots or agents of other legitimate services. The goal is always the same – to infiltrate their way through the website's security measures.”

Part of the reason for the increase of bot traffic is because they are easy to build, Alexis C. Madrigal of The Atlantic claims. In fact, he said that it is “jawdroppingly easy” and “so simple that a journalist (who has not learned to code) can do it” using a readily-available $300 piece of software that “lets people like me program and execute simple scripts in browsers without (really) knowing any code.”