Wednesday, 08 February 2017 02:13

Bots are responsible for more internet traffic than humans: Report


A new internet traffic report indicates that bots are responsible for more internet traffic than humans.

The Bot Traffic Report 2016 was compiled by Imperva Incapsula. It’s findings are quite surprising, but understandable in hindsight.

For the report, Imperva Incapsula generated data by analyzing “16.7+ billion visits to 100,000 randomly-selected domains.”

The biggest finding of the report is that humans only account for 48.2 percent of all online traffic. So called ‘good’ bots account for 22.9 percent of the traffic and ‘bad’ bots for the remaining 28.9 percent. Of these bots, 24.3 percent are ‘impersonators’ that “assume false identities to bypass security solutions.” In other words, these bots are used to orchestrate DDoS attacks.

Image and data: Imperva Incapsula

Image and data: Imperva Incapsula

On the ‘good’ bot side, 12.2 percent of the traffic comes from ‘feed fetchers’ that move content mobile and web applications. An additional 6.6 percent of ‘good’ traffic comes from search engine bots that crawl the web for data, within legal bounds of course.

Good bots are those bots that make it easier for us to browse the web. Bad bots are, well, bad. They’re used to orchestrate malicious attacks, generate spam, scrape the web for personal information and more.

The good news here is that traffic from bad bots has remained roughly the same since 2012. If anything, it’s come down a bit. Traffic from good bots has gone up slightly since 2012.

Image and data: Imperva Incapsula

Image and data: Imperva Incapsula

The report also indicates that up to half the traffic on reasonably sized websites comes from bots. Interestingly, over 93 percent of total traffic on small websites (with 0-10 daily visitors) comes from bots. This ratio of bots to humans goes down as the sites popularity goes up.

Media company Axios suggests that these stats are significant because bots cost advertisers around $7 billion in annual revenue. Many advertising companies and media houses have also invested heavily in ensuring that ads are seen by actual people rather than bots, which costs money.

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