Nearly half of all internet traffic in 2022 came from bots, a report in The Independent said.
According to the cyber security firm Imperva, nearly half (47.4 per cent) of all internet traffic in 2022, or a 5.1 per cent increase Year-on-Year (YoY), was generated by bots.
Meanwhile, the proportion of human traffic decreased to 52.6 per cent, which is its lowest level in eight years, it said.
What is a bot?
A bot is a software application that performs automated tasks and is typically used to grow followers and engagement. Meanwhile, maliciously motivated automated task-running software programmes known as "bad bots" are also capable of high-speed abuse and misuse.
"Bad bots engage with applications in the same way that real users would, which makes it more difficult to identify and block them. As opposed to taking advantage of technical flaws, they abuse business logic by taking advantage of the way a company runs," the company said in its report.
Google Bard: What we know so far about generative AI chatbot in the works
Sundar Pichai pushes Googlers to spend more time improving its Bard AI
AI integration may soon fundamentally alter how we search on the internet
Urban Co-op Bank profiles improve on bad loan dip, better profitability
Smartest among them all, ChatGPT to help other bots in innovation
Qualcomm bets big on Hybrid artificial intelligence in ChatGPT, Bard era
Microsoft's Phone Link for iOS now available to all Windows 11 users
Chat lock: Know about WhatsApp's privacy feature for private conversations
AI-generated image: This Google Search tool helps detect synthetic photos
Apple to not make iPads, Mac PCs but may manufacture AirPods in India
"They enable high-speed abuse, misuse, and attacks on websites, mobile apps, and APIs. They enable a variety of malicious activities to be carried out by attackers, fraudsters, unsavoury competitors, and bot operators,'' it added.
Bad bots peaked in 2022
The company began monitoring the trend in 2013 and found that the prevalence of so-called "bad bots" peaked in 2022.
According to Imperva, bad bot traffic rose by 2.5 per cent in 2022 and now makes up 30.2 per cent of all traffic. The report also notes that the growth in bad bot traffic has continued for the past four years.
Advanced bad bots use cutting-edge evasion techniques, closely mimic human behaviour, enter through anonymous proxies, and change identities to evade detection, the researchers said.
With the introduction of Google's Bard and OpenAI's ChatGPT, the researchers fear bot activity will rise even more this year.
"Cyber criminals will put more effort into attacking application business logic and API endpoints using sophisticated automation. Therefore, the financial impact and business disruption caused by bad bots will increase in the upcoming years," the researchers noted.
Who gets affected the most?
The company noted that the legal, government, travel, and retail industries are the most frequently targeted by more advanced bots and that the majority of bad bot activity occurs in Germany, Ireland, Singapore, Australia, and the United States.
Imperva has also advised users to keep their web browsers updated at all times to prevent malicious bots.