The COVID-19 pandemic spurred on rapid digitalization, forever changing how people and organizations conduct business. While this digitalization brought many benefits with it, it also opened new attack vectors and brought about increasingly sophisticated and frequent cyber threats.
Bot attacks are one particularly pernicious type of threat, and they are on the rise. According to Kasada’s 2021 State of Bot Mitigation report, 83% of security professionals whose companies have started using an anti-bot platform reported that a bot attack had hit their company in the past year, and 80% reported that it was difficult for their security tools to detect and stop these malicious bots. As bots become more elusive and adaptable, no one is immune—countries, companies, and individuals cannot afford to ignore their lurking presence. Bot detection and management solutions must continuously innovate to stay ahead of the threat.
Fraud’s New Frontier
The metaverse, Web3, and virtual currency industries—fraught with as much risk as opportunity—are poised to become the next frontiers for bot attacks. The metaverse’s immense amount of data will be a treasure trove for hackers looking to steal personal data and carry out theft on a massive scale. Although the metaverse is in its infancy, its unique security challenges are already coming to light—according to Arkose Labs, metaverse companies saw a 40% increase in bot attacks in Q4 2021. Bloomberg Intelligence predicts that the metaverse could be a US$800 billion market by 2024, which will make it an especially attractive target for cybercriminals.
Hackers are similarly flocking to cryptocurrencies and NFTs in the hopes of making a profit. The network behind Solana, one of the globe’s biggest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, has repeatedly been hit by bot attacks in the past year—even going offline several times. In the case of NFT launches, bots are snatching up works of digital art en masse, then reselling them on secondary markets at significantly higher prices. Many of these bots can be purchased for paltry sums, making hacking relatively accessible to even the most unsophisticated cybercriminal.
Global Cyber Threats
The decentralized nature of the virtual currency market presents another challenge in that it exists in a regulatory grey area. Different jurisdictions and agencies are grappling with how best to craft and impose workable cybersecurity standards and regulations in this complex, transnational realm. Government regulation aside, the technical architects behind metaverse, Web3, and virtual currency platforms must look to embed stringent and ever-evolving security controls to detect and stop bad bot activity and other cyberthreats.
Meanwhile, political conflict is increasingly playing out in the cyber world. Russian bots have taken to the internet to sow misinformation, sway political discourse, and wreak havoc. On February 15, 2022, a bot-based distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack attributed to a Russian federal agency caused the websites of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and two of Ukraine’s largest banks to go dark. Governments have been slower than financial institutions in instituting digital transformation, which puts them further at risk of attack—as highlighted by massive fraud campaigns undertaken amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the pace of digitalization continues to outstrip regulation; globalization, warfare, and digitalization collide; and hackers become increasingly clever, organizations of all sizes must look to invest in bot detection and management solutions. Solution providers in this industry must be constantly vigilant to keep pace with the evolution of bot activity. Behavioral biometrics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning will continue to take center stage in differentiating between human activity and bots, thwarting attacks, and reducing friction. For more information on 2022’s bot detection and management landscape, please read Aite-Novarica Group’s report Bot Detection and Management: Guarding the Gate Against Unwanted Bots.