Protect Your Website From Bots

Protect Your Website From Bots

Behind the scenes of any website is a hidden world of bots. In simple terms, a bot is a program that automates a task, making it faster and easier to perform a function. While many bots are powerful productivity tools used to improve the functionality and performance of a website, there’s a growing segment of bot traffic accessing your site with an intent to cause harm or steal data.

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Good vs. Bad

Good Bots

Good bots perform useful tasks to make your website more visible and increase accuracy and efficiency of your content. Examples of a legitimate use of a bot on a website include:

Search Engine Crawlers
Google, Bing and other search engines use bots to crawl your website to determine where you will be listed in search results.
Social Media & Content Aggregators
When you share a link to your website on platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, their bots fetch content from your website to share details like a photo or a preview of the page. RSS feed readers also scan websites to retrieve new post details to display in 3rd party apps.
Site Monitoring & Analytics
Tools that monitor a website for uptime or test speed and site health use bots to scan your site for performance issues.
Search engine optimization tools can help SEO experts and site owners find and fix errors or provide competitive analysis of other websites.
Accessibility Tools
Bots can be utilized to test websites for accessibility compliance.
Vulnerability Scanners
Scanning for security vulnerabilities can be automated with the help of bots to regularly monitor a website for potential issues.

These bots are generally beneficial because they enhance the functionality, visibility, and security of websites. However, it is crucial to manage and monitor bot traffic to ensure they do not overload server resources.

Bad Bots

Bad bots, on the other hand, can severely impact website performance, security, and user experience. Some of the most common threats posed by these types of bots include:

Spam Bots
Most people are familiar with comment spam or messages sent through contact forms that contain advertising or malicious links. Spam bots are likely the most familiar of the bad bots.
Content Scrapers
These bots scrape content from websites, often to steal intellectual property, pricing, or contact information like email addresses and use this information for a variety of purposes, including spam and phishing campaigns.
Credential Stuffing
Bots use stolen username and password combinations to gain unauthorized access to user accounts, leading to account takeovers and data breaches.
Denial-of-Service (DoS)
DDoS bots participate in Distributed Denial of Service attacks by overwhelming a website with traffic, causing it to slow down or become unavailable.
Vulnerability Scanners
Much like good bots, bad bots can also scan your website to look for security vulnerabilities such as outdated software, weak passwords, or unpatched exploits, which can be used to launch attacks.
Malware distribution bots spread malware to other systems, which can be used to form botnets for larger attacks, including DDoS attacks and data theft.

Protecting your website against malicious bots is not merely a matter of safeguarding your data—it's essential for maintaining trust with your users and preserving your brand's reputation. A single security breach resulting from a bot attack can lead to devastating consequences, including financial losses, damage to your credibility, and legal repercussions.

How can we make sure only good bots are accessing your site?

Beyond the basics like securing your website with HTTPS, using secure and unique passwords, and keeping code up to date, there are other ways to deter bots.

Tools like Google’s reCAPTCHA “I’m not a robot” feature challenge users with tasks that are difficult for bots to solve, ensuring that only human users can proceed.
Web Application Firewall (WAF)
A firewall acts as a protective barrier between your website and the internet, monitoring incoming traffic and filtering out malicious requests, including those originating from bots. They can detect and block common bot signatures, such as suspicious user-agents and IP addresses associated with known botnets.
IP Blacklisting
Bots (or any malicious visitor to your site) can be restricted by blocking their IP address from accessing the site. In some cases blocking or limiting access to a range of IP address from a specific country can help limit malicious activity.
Rate Limiting
Limiting the number of requests a single IP address can make in a specific time period can help mitigate automated scraping and brute force attacks.
JavaScript Challenges
JavaScript-based challenges can be put in place that require user interaction to access your site or specific features of the site, which bots typically cannot complete.

By combining these strategies, you can create a multi-layered defense system to effectively block bad bots while minimizing the impact on legitimate users.

Do these methods actually work?

Earlier this year, a client’s website was inundated with bot traffic after a fake investment app with a nearly identical name started defrauding investors, and they responded by trying to take down the investment app. Unfortunately, the company they targeted was not who defrauded them, but it didn’t stop the disgruntled investors from flooding the site with traffic and overwhelming their contact form to the point that even Google’s reCAPTCHA wasn’t sufficient to stop the attack.

Through a combination of IP blacklisting of the country where the attacks originated and JavaScript challenges, we were able to repel up to 6,000 attacks in a single day, ultimately blocking nearly 120,000 attacks in a 30 day period.

Where do we go from here? 

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, protecting your website against malicious bots is no longer optional—it's a necessity. By implementing robust security measures and leveraging advanced technologies, we can fortify your website and ensure the safety and integrity of your online presence. Don't wait until it's too late—let’s take proactive steps today to safeguard your website.


Some bots provide valuable time-saving services for web developers and site owners, but there are a host of bots aiming to cause harm to websites or steal data. Protecting your site through regular security audits and bot-prevention tools like reCAPTCHA and a firewall is essential for every website.

Posted May 15, 2024