/ Unified Security Guide / Chapter 6: Bot management

Bot management

As organizations continue to expand their online presence—be it from shifting business infrastructure to the cloud or doing more business online—safeguarding enterprise web applications and APIs from advanced bot attacks is more important than ever.

Bad bot traffic continues to account for a large share of all internet traffic, which means IT departments must deploy the proper bot management strategies to protect their company’s infrastructure and assets.

According to Google, the forced acceleration of digital transformation of so many brick-and-mortar businesses throughout COVID-19 played a key role in today’s increasing number of bot attacks. In a recent survey commissioned by Google and conducted by Forrester Research, 71% of companies experienced an increase in the number of successful bot attacks throughout 2020, and 75% experienced greater revenue loss due to these attacks.

While many organizations are aware of the growing threat of bot attacks, most do not have the infrastructure in place to defend against them. 78% percent of organizations are using Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection and web application firewalls (WAFs) to mitigate malicious bot attacks (both of which are key elements of a full bot management system), but only 19% are utilizing a full bot management system.

Rather than trying to weave together disparate security solutions to thwart bot attacks, organizations must understand the right combination of security strategies to truly safeguard their apps and APIs—and that includes a bot management solution.

Below we will break down just what bot management is, what constitutes a full bot management system, as well as how you can incorporate this system into your security architecture by partnering with a single cybersecurity vendor.

What is bot management?

Bot management is the process of detecting, blocking, and mitigating bad internet bot traffic while allowing and controlling good bots (such as search bots or chatbots that aid in customer service) to access your business applications and APIs. A robust bot management strategy will deploy security solutions like allow/block lists, rate limiting, and bot traps. Bot management is essential to defend against automated bot threats like application-layer (L7) DDoS attacks, SQL injection, and spam operations.

The difference between good bots and bad bots

Bots are software programs that automatically and repeatedly perform certain actions on the web. Some of the most common activities that good bots can automate include:

  • Crawling websites to index content for search engines
  • Providing customer support via chat interfaces
  • Filling out and submitting web forms
  • Downloading content
  • Posting on social media platforms
  • Shopping around online for the best deals
  • Monitoring the health of a website or system
  • Completing transactions on behalf of a person

Unfortunately, the same automated features that make good bots useful also make bad bots dangerous—as bad bots can be used to initiate automated, scalable attacks against your applications and APIs.

Common types of bot attacks

Some of the most common types of bot attacks against applications and APIs include:

Web scraping attacks

Web-scraping bots extract copyrighted or trademarked data from apps or APIs and reuse it, often for competitive purposes.

DDoS attacks

Attackers utilize a botnet (a network of computers infected by malware that are under the control of a single attacking party) to overwhelm an app or API with useless traffic. Advanced L7 DDoS attacks utilize bots that appear as if they are sending real requests.

Weakness scanning

Bots continuously search for weaknesses in web apps and APIs. If a vulnerability is found, attackers can deploy tactics like cross-scripting (XSS) or SQL injection.

Spam and malware operations

Attackers use botnets to deliver spam or malware to email inboxes. Botnets can also be used to deploy scaled phishing attacks.

Account control

Bots take control accounts through brute-force guessing tactics, such as credential stuffing or password spraying attacks.

The importance of bot management solutions

Without the proper bot security architecture in place, attackers can capitalize on application and API vulnerabilities to do things like steal intellectual property, hoard network or server resources, perform account takeovers, and compromise business intelligence. Fortunately, with a unified bot management solution, your organization can proactively mitigate bot attacks and safeguard your assets.

How to protect your apps and APIs from malicious bots

Protecting your applications and APIs from malicious bots requires a holistic approach and intelligent security solutions. Along with incorporating DDoS protection, WAF, and API defense and protection tools like API gateways, organizations must also deploy a bot management solution. No matter what type of bot attack your organization experiences, modern bot management solutions allow you to safeguard all your web applications and APIs from a single pane of glass.

A robust bot management solution should follow a holistic life cycle that includes:

  • Detecting bots
  • Allowing good bots and blocking bad bots
  • Reporting and logging the type, origin, and action of bot traffic

Robust bot management with Citrix

Citrix bot management allows you to detect incoming bot traffic and mitigate bot attacks to protect your web apps and APIs—all from a unified, consolidated security vendor. Integrated into Citrix ADC, Citrix bot management is also supported by Bot Insights within the Citrix Application Delivery Management platform.

By deploying Citrix ADC and bot management, your organization can:

  • Identify good and bad bots to protect your apps and APIs from advanced security attacks.
  • Defend against bots, scripts, and toolkits while gaining real-time threat mitigation via static signature-based defense and device fingerprinting.
  • Neutralize automated basic and volumetric attacks, such as DDoS, password spraying, credential stuffing, price scrapers, and content scrapers.
  • Protect your apps and APIs from unwarranted misuse and shield infrastructure investments from automated traffic.

Citrix Bot Management detection techniques

Using Citrix ADC, your IT department can configure a wide range of bot management strategies to identify and respond to bot traffic, including:

Allow and block lists: Lists of URLs and policy expressions that work to allow good bots to access your apps and APIs while blocking bad bots from passing through. attributes.

Device fingerprinting: Detects if incoming bot traffic has a device fingerprint ID in the request header and browser

IP address identification: Identifies if incoming bot traffic is a malicious IP address.

Bot signatures: Identifies and blocks bots based on signatures. In addition, it prevents unauthorized web-scraping URLs, brute-force logins, and bots that search for web app and API weaknesses.

Bot traps: Detects bots accessing scripts that are enabled on webpages.

Rate limiting: Limits multiple requests coming from the same client.

Transactions per second (TPS): TPS identifies incoming web traffic as bots if the maximum requests exceed the set time interval.

Comprehensive bot protection with Citrix Web App and API Protection

Bot management is a core component of the comprehensive application security solution from Citrix. It is available as part of the Citrix ADC, as well as a component of cloud delivered Citrix Web App and API Protection service. Citrix offers bot management alongside advanced DDoS attack mitigation, WAF, and other security measures that protect applications from cyber-attacks.

As a cloud-delivered service, Citrix Web App and API Protection is easy to deploy, features no operational overhead with installing or maintaining the solution, and ensures the latest bot management protections are always available. It is also easy to scale the Citrix solution to meet your protection requirements—even in complex multi-cloud environments.

Modernize your bot security strategies with Citrix

With automated, scalable, and difficult-to-detect bot attacks on the rise, organizations must deploy holistic bot security solutions to truly protect their web applications and APIs. Unfortunately, even if you utilize piecemeal security strategies like DDoS protection, WAF, and API gateways, your organization might still be vulnerable to modern attack vectors.

By utilizing these strategies alongside a robust bot management solution from a unified security vendor, you can properly protect your assets no matter the type of bot attack—all from a single pane of glass.

FAQs

What is bot management?

Bot management is the process of detecting and blocking bad internet bot traffic while allowing good bots (such as search bots or chatbots that aid in customer service) to access your business applications and APIs. A robust bot management strategy will deploy security solutions like allow/block lists, rate limiting, and bot traps. Bot management is essential to defend against automated bot threats like application-layer (L7) DDoS attacks, SQL injection, and spam operations.

What is bot mitigation?

Bot mitigation is the process of reducing the risk of malicious bots targeting your business applications or APIs with automated attacks. Bot mitigation leverages bot detection techniques to block bad bots and allow good bots to pass through to your apps and APIs. They also incorporate security strategies that work to prevent your network from being overwhelmed by harmful bot traffic.

How to protect apps and APIs from bots?

Protecting your applications and APIs from malicious bots requires a holistic approach and intelligent security solutions. Along with incorporating DDoS protection, WAF, and API defense and protection tools like API gateways, organizations must also deploy a bot management solution.