Business

Bots are now the dominant species on the Internet, study says

A graphical depiction from Insulata of our new minority status.

Above: A graphical depiction from Incapsula of our new minority status.

Image Credit: http://www.incapsula.com/the-incapsula-blog/item/820-bot-traffic-report-2013

I, for one, welcome our new bot overlords … particularly since they are still allowing us humans to use the Internet.

According to a new report from security content delivery network Incapsula, 61.5 percent of all website traffic is now non-human, while a mere 38.5 percent represents carbon units clicking things. This is a 10 percent increase in non-humanness just since a similar study in March.

Of course, there are bots and there are bots. Thirty-one percent are search engines and what Incapsula describes as “other good bots.” That proportion is increasing more than any other bot segments, which might be a good thing if we have to choose a side.

A large portion of the bot boom comes from search engine agents and SEO services, up 13 percent this year in a trend that we expect to increase as Google, Bing and others attempt to understand everything about everything.

Other segments in the bot study: Five percent are scrapers, 4.5 percent hacking tools, 0.5 percent other spammers, and then there’s “other impersonators,” representing 20.5 percent. Scrapers are also bad guys, conducting content theft, reverse engineering of pricing and email address captures for spamming. Impersonators include distributed denial of service attacks and marketing intelligence gathering.

Fortunately, spam bots have decreased slightly, which Incapsula attributes to Google’s campaign against link and comment spamming.

But watch out for the impersonators, a fast-growing part of this menagerie that is pretending to be search engine minions or other agents in order to sneak past site defenses.

If this rate of increase for non-human surfers continues, the phrase Internet of Things may soon more appropriately describe who really rules this realm.


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