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Bot management refers to bot detection as well as the blocking of undesired or malicious Internet bot traffic, all while still allowing useful bots to access web APIs and properties. It may deploy mechanisms such as allow and block lists, rate limiting, and bot traps, for mitigating the risk and damage of bot attacks. As internet traffic becomes more bot-driven, comprehensive bot management provides the best defense against the numerous automated threats — such as application-layer DDoS attacks, as well as SQL injection risks and spam campaigns — that can harm business applications.
The same fundamental features that make good bots so useful also make bad bots so threatening.
A bot can automate a broad spectrum of activities, ranging from crawling for purposes of search engine indexing, to supporting real-time chat interfaces for customer service and business intelligence. But this efficient automation can be leveraged for scalable and highly effective cyberattacks, too. Common examples include but are not limited to:
To mitigate these risks and others, modern bot management solutions perform bot detection – through IP address analysis, bot signatures, device fingerprinting and behavioral analysis. Bot management solutions enable you to reliably defend your web applications and APIs from every type of bot attack, from a basic attempt at password spraying to a highly sophisticated botnet-powered DDoS campaign.
Bot management follows a lifecycle from bot detection (identifying the bot) through bot action (allowing or denying the bot traffic) and finally to bot reporting (logging the nature, origin and action taken of bot traffic). Moreover, it can work in tandem with solutions like web application firewalls (WAF), DDoS mitigation solutions, API defense and protection for both monolithic and microservice-based applications, to deliver streamlined, holistic cybersecurity across environments.
Multiple bot detection techniques are supported by modern bot management solutions:
Together, these bot detection techniques enable bot management tools to manage and log bot traffic in accordance with bot policy rules, with support from mechanisms including but not limited to:
Using the traffic management features in a bot management tool, it is possible to set limits on designated bot traffic and prevent bad bots from entering the network, even if they have made it past other detection mechanisms. For example, an unknown bot that is not contained on either an allow list or a block list can be rate-limited so that it cannot overwhelm an API or microservice architecture. Bot management solutions may also redirect and drop bot traffic once it is flagged by any of the above detection techniques.
Bot management software may enforce a CAPTCHA to determine whether traffic is allowed to reach a domain. CAPTCHAs are useful for determining if traffic is human- or bot-directed, helping stem the flow of automated malicious bot activity that can comprise web applications and APIs. Traffic that fails to complete a CAPTCHA may be dropped or subjected to additional verification actions, including allow and block lists.
Setting up allow lists and block lists for specific bots is an effective route toward ensuring that good bots are allowed to access web apps and APIs, while bad bots are kept at bay. Each allow list or block list can be customized to include particular IP addresses, subnets and policy expressions, enabling you to determine if a bot’s origins are acceptable.
A bot management tool can provide analytics about average bot transaction requests per second, bot-to-human ratios for virtual servers, bot severity ratings and geographic origins and event histories of when bot signatures were added and updated. This information is valuable for fine-tuning the overall range of actions in a bot management strategy.
To effectively manage bots and contain malicious bot activity, Citrix Bot Management is integrated into Citrix ADC and supported by Bot Insights within Citrix ADM. Bot management is also a core component of the multi-layered protection provided through Citrix Web App and API Security (CWAAP).
Citrix Bot Management works alongside the DDoS attack mitigation measures, WAFs, microservices security, artificial intelligence, and machine learning capabilities in CWAAP. Through the aggregation of information from bot management servers and Citrix ADCs, CWAAP ensures you have comprehensive security that is always up-to-date. Moreover, as a cloud-delivered managed service, it is easy to configure and deploy from a single pane of glass.