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Bot attacks on organisations worldwide disproportionately come from Russia and China, according to a new study.
A survey of 440 businesses conducted by Coleman Parkes and released by Netacea, an artificial-intelligence-powered bot detection service, found that 53 per cent of all bot attacks came from Russia and China, with 72 per cent of respondents saying they were hit by bots based in China and 66 per cent from Russia.
Cranfield University’s lecturer in information activities, Rob Black, has said that this growth can be attributed to the changing nature of warfare and conflict.
“In today’s age, conflict is no longer pursued solely through traditional military means. Instead, state actors are entering into a range of different forms of contest,” he said.
“More often than not, these are enabled through rapid technological advancements, recognising that we are no longer distinct nations separated by borders and seas, but instead are interconnected through networks, information flows and data.”
Growing geopolitical tensions, such as the conflict in Ukraine and the strain between China and the West, are potential reasons for the growth in bot attacks originating from these two nations.
Netacea co-founder Andy Still has said that while this could be a contributing factor, “it is not possible to attribute specific threat actors and motivations”.
That being said, Still said that while these attacks may not be the official policy of these countries, they aren’t being cracked down on locally as their outcomes align “with broader national goals.”
Optiv cyber practice leader Nick Hyatt said automated attacks are to be expected from Russia and China due to their sophisticated offensive security programs and the changing nature of intelligence.
“Much like any country, the activities undertaken by these groups run the gamut from intelligence gathering to espionage,” Hyatt said.
“Given the vast swathe of organisations these groups often target, automation through bot activity allows for broad stroke initial activity, with actual hands-on-keyboard work once suitable targets have been found.”
These bot attacks are having a major impact on organisations, with the average business losing 4.3 per cent of online revenues to bots.
This equates to US$85.6 million, a value that is over double what it was two years ago, once again bolstering the argument that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is having an impact.
Bot attacks have increased globally across the board, with 99 per cent of respondents that detected an automated attack saying they had detected an increase in attack volume. These bots work by attacking in a blanket-sweeping form, looking to get a small foot in the door that can lead to further and more sophisticated automated attacks.
They then attack websites, application programming interfaces (APIs) and applications, causing issues for businesses on a massive scale.
The Netacea report also found that there were two new attack vectors detected – fake account creation and gift card cracking.
Bots traffic, in general, is massively increasing online, with bots making up 47.4 per cent of all internet traffic last year. By the end of 2023, bots are expected to make up the majority of all internet traffic.
Bot traffic is not necessarily a sign that automated threat actors are taking over, with many bots used for good. However, the increasing threat of bad bots is present and growing.
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