The Web Traffic Your Business Doesn’t Want

Almost every company knows how important it is to try and increase the amount of traffic visiting their website each day.  Traffic usually leads to sales after all!  What many firms don’t realise, though, is that some of that traffic is seriously unwelcome.  That’s why we’ve put together this little guide dedicated to the four areas of traffic, focused not on buying your products, but on compromising your website security.

Hacking tools

We might as well start with the scariest.  The latest figures from Incapsula, a CDN and website security service provider, indicate that around 5% of any website’s traffic is coming from hacking tools, specifically designed to root around in your site’s data and carry out a number of unpleasant tasks.  Some of the key aims are data theft (in particular, financial data e.g. credit card details, pin numbers, etc), infecting the website with malware and even, on some occasions, to totally crash the site.

The Web Traffic Your Business Doesn’t Want

How do they work?

This traffic scouts out websites in order detect and exploit potential vulnerabilities, and also uses DDoS clients to overwhelm the website until it ceases to function.  Unfortunately, no one is safe as these attacks can be carried out on absolutely any site, with no target being too big or too small.

Scrapers

Much like hacking tools, scrapers are estimated to make up around 5% of a standard website’s traffic.   Their aims vary with some scrapers seeking to steal your content and post it to other sites in an attempt to improve their own reputation while others focus instead on trying to access e-mail addresses to add to their spam lists.  On some occasions, the purpose is more devious: to try and reverse engineer a company’s price lists and business models so that they can be imitated.

How does it work?

Scrapers make use of specially created malicious software in order to automatically extract information from your website.  The software can be modified in order to target almost any specifics such as prices, e-mail addresses and other contact information.

Comment spammers

Anyone with experience running a WordPress-based website will know this particular scourge well.  As you might have guessed by the name, comment spammers will bombard your website with comments. The aim of doing this varies slightly with some looking to obtain back-links to their to try and improve their SEO rankings while others are more focused on getting your site blacklisted by inserting links to malware.  Others simply want to bog down and slow a website’s performance.

How does it work?

As a general rule, comment spamming is carried out using ‘bots’ which generate the comments automatically, including links to discussion boards, blogs, guest-books and any other relevant pages.  Any website that displays comments can be targeted in this way (which is why WordPress based sites so frequently fall victim to the attack).

Spies

Alongside traditional viruses, spies are the most feared beasties on the web, and with good reason.  Spies visit pages with the express aim of stealing any information that could prove valuable.  For some, this will be contact information relevant to their own industry.  For others, it will be marketing information to help them gain a competitive advantage.  Of course, for some it will simply be financial information that can then be used for more devious ends.  Frighteningly, it’s estimated that up to 19% of any website’s traffic could be arriving in the form of spies.

How does it work?

Again, this is usually carried out by specially created software designed to analyse a website and obtain the necessary information.  As with the hacking tools, no website is too big or too small to be targeted so don’t sit back, protect yourself today!