What is Bot Mitigation?

Bot mitigation is the reduction of risk to applications, APIs and backend services from malicious bot traffic that fuels common automated attacks such as DDoS campaigns and vulnerability probing. A bot mitigation solution will leverage multiple bot detection techniques to identify and block bad bots, allow good bots to operate as intended and generally prevent the network from being overwhelmed by unwanted bot traffic.

Explore additional Bot Management topics:

Why is bot mitigation important?

A growing share of all internet traffic is bot-driven, with estimates that bots account for as much as 40% of all traffic.

Bots can do anything from fill out a web form to conduct a real-time conversation with humans, but may also be used maliciously, for instance, to carry out a Layer 4-7 DDoS attack against an online business, overwhelm a key API or continuously check a site for cross-scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities. Overall, bot attacks are a growing cause of data breaches and financial losses.

Reliably thwarting bot attacks requires a bot mitigation platform that can:

  • Rapidly detect risky bot traffic — via detection mechanisms such as IP address filtering, device fingerprinting, and the usage of allow and block lists — with minimal false positives.
  • Take subsequent action, like rate limiting or dropping the traffic, to stop bots from overburdening infrastructure that supports microservices and web and mobile apps.
  • Constantly keep its bot signatures up-to-date while also providing analytics that reveal current and historical trends for bot activity and bot attacks.

Companies such as airlines and financial services providers are some of the most common targets of bot attacks. However, organizations of all types are increasingly exposed to the risks of malicious bots attempting to inundate their networks, and as such, they need reliable bot mitigation solutions for better fraud protection, as well as improved application and API security.

How does a bot mitigation solution work?

A bot mitigation solution may employ multiple types of bot detection and management techniques. For more sophisticated attacks, it may leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning for continuous adaptability as bots and attacks evolve. A layered approach, combining a bot management solution with security tools like web application firewalls (WAF) and API gateways, will provide the most comprehensive protection, through:

IP Address Blocking and IP Reputation Analysis

Bot mitigation solutions may maintain a collection of known malicious IP addresses, which are known to be bots. These addresses may be fixed, or updated dynamically with new risky domains added as IP reputations evolve. Dangerous bot traffic can then be blocked.

Allow Lists and Block Lists

Allow lists and block lists for bots can be defined by IP addresses, subnets and policy expressions that represent acceptable and unacceptable bot origins. A bot included on an allow list can bypass other bot detection measures, while one that isn’t listed there may be subsequently checked against a block list, or subjected to rate limiting and transactions per second (TPS) monitoring.

Rate Limiting and TPS

Bot traffic from an unknown bot can be throttled (rate limited) by a bot management solution. This way, a single client can’t send unlimited requests to an API and in turn bog down the network. Similarly, TPS sets a defined time interval for bot traffic requests and can shut down bots if their total number of requests or the percentage increase in requests violate the baseline.

Bot Signature Management and Device Fingerprinting

A bot signature is an identifier of a bot, based on particular attributes such as patterns in its HTTP requests. Device fingerprinting likewise reveals if a bot is linked to certain browser attributes or request headers associated with bad bot traffic.

Bot mitigation from Citrix

Citrix Web App and API Protection includes integrated bot protection, for robust protection of apps and APIs against bot attacks. This level of bot mitigation helps organizations scale, modernize and protect their operations, even in the complex multi-cloud environments in which bots play a pivotal part.

Bot management and mitigation techniques work in tandem with WAFs, DDoS mitigation solutions and the protections for monolithic and microservices-based apps in Citrix ADC and Citrix ADM. The end result is simple and holistic protection of both apps and APIs.

Additional Resources