Research by Incapsula has revealed that bots are now responsible for 61.5% of web traffic, a 21% rise on last year’s figure of 51%.
To conjure its report, Security firm Incapsula said it observed 1.45 billion bot visits over a 90 day period, and that the information was deduced and sourced from 20,000 sites operated by its clients.
These are tools used by search engines to crawl websites in order to index their content, by analytics companies to provide feedback about how a site is performing, and by others to carry out other specific tasks – such as helping the Internet Archive preserve content before it is deleted.
Dr Ian Brown, associate director at Oxford University’s Cyber Security Centre said the figures were useful as an indication of the growth in non-human traffic, even if they were not accurate to the nearest decimal place.
“Their own customers may or may not be representative of the wider web,” he told the BBC, though he was not involved in the study.
“There will also be some unavoidable fuzziness in their data, given that they are trying to measure malicious website visits where by definition the visitors are trying to disguise their origin.”
It said there had been a 75% drop in the frequency spam links were being automatically posted. It suggested this was in part down to Google’s efforts to make it harder to carry out the practice. It also said it had seen a 10% drop in hacking tool bot activities, including the use of code to distribute malware, to steal credit cards and to hijack and deface websites
“While the trend will increase the costs of website operators, I think that, at this scale, it’s something they can cope with,” he added.
Bots are responsible for 61% of web traffic… Weird.