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How are bots exploiting media & publishing platforms?

By Netacea / 04th Mar 2020

89% of businesses were targeted by bot attacks in 2019 – and 79.2% of these attacks were classed as sophisticated. However, some industries are more likely to be targeted by certain types of attacks than others.

Below are the commonly occurring bot attacks within the media and publishing industry:

1. Content scraping: affects online newspapers, magazines & digital publishing platforms

Think about all the time, money and effort you and your colleagues dedicate to creating high-quality content, and mere minutes later, you find your content published on another site. This is referred to as ‘content scraping’.

Content scraping, also known as web scraping, is when the content is taken, or ‘scraped’ from one website and published on another. This is carried out using scraper bots that are programmed to scrape content from your website, and thanks to this automated technique, they can scrape hundreds of pages at a time enabling them to complete their task within seconds of the content being posted. In an industry where content is king, the effects of content scraping are extremely detrimental.

Scraped content can often appear above original content on search engines, decreasing the volume of traffic reaching the publishing website. Additionally, there are significant investments made into creating the original content and copyright laws to consider.

Learn more about how content scraping effects media and publishing organisations: What is web scraping?

2. Ad fraud: affects online newspapers, magazines, digital publishing platforms, social media platforms & display ad networks

Many social media and online digital publishing platforms generate the bulk of their revenue via businesses displaying ads on their websites. Revenue is generated when users click on the ads. However, the World Federation of Advertisers estimates that fraudulent ad clicks will be responsible for up to $50 billion by 2025.

Ad fraud is carried out using automated bots, that are programmed to behave like real users clicking on the ads. As a result, businesses are often paying for non-existent customers. Ad fraud doesn’t just hurt businesses, but the platforms that publish the ads. Publishing platforms such as Google and Facebook are becoming increasingly savvy regarding ad fraud and are better able to identify when clicks are made by humans or bots. This will result in businesses losing trust in online digital media platforms who are consistently ineffective at preventing ad fraud.

Find out more about how ad fraud works: What is ad fraud?

3. Credential stuffing: affects ANY online platforms with a login form

Research suggests that up to 59% of consumers reuse their usernames and passwords across multiple accounts/websites. With that in mind, when one company falls victim to a data breach – that can very quickly become an issue for third party websites who happen to have a login form.

Automated bots are used to carry out credential stuffing attacks, continuously inputting stolen or leaked credentials into a website’s login form until they gain access to the target account. Once accessed, the contents of the account can be stolen or the validated credentials sold on the dark web for a profit.

In the media and publishing industry, streaming services are typically the most attractive target for credential stuffing attacks, followed closely by online newspapers and magazines with a subscription service, social media platforms, or other digital media platforms are just as vulnerable.

Learn more about credential stuffing here: What is credential stuffing?

4. Fake account creation: affects social media platforms

Fake account creation is the use of bots to create numerous fake accounts on websites. Automated bots are able to create accounts faster than the average human and are even able to make it appear as though the accounts are being created in different countries around the world.

Sophisticated attackers also utilise fake account creation alongside credential stuffing attacks. This ensures that a spate of failed log-in attempts during a credential stuffing attack is masked by the numerous successful log-in attempts from fake accounts.

Fake account creation can lead to a decrease in user-trust and leave you vulnerable to other forms of sophisticated bot attacks such as credential stuffing attacks.

Have you struggled to detect and mitigate the bot attacks affecting your media and publishing business? Talk to the bot management experts at Netacea today to find out how we can help you stop the malicious bots threatening your organisation.

Bot Management / Data Breach