Security Experts:

Bad Bot Percentage of Web Traffic Nearly Doubled in 2013: Report

New research has found the majority of malicious bot traffic last year emanated from the United States and circulated the Web the most when many IT staffers are headed home.

According to Distil Networks, the United States accounted for 46.58 percent, with Great Britain and Germany coming in second or third with 19.43 percent and 9.65 percent, respectively. 

Distil Networks' findings are based on activity that occurred between January and December of 2013.  Among its customers in the United States, bot attacks occurred most between 6 pm and 9 pm EST, when nearly 50 percent of all bad bot traffic hit sites. The period between 6pm and 2 am EST was home to 79 percent of all attacks. By comparison, the 14-hour time span from 3 am to 5 pm EST saw just 13.8 percent of all malicious bot traffic.

"The data clearly shows that those who launch bad bots intentionally circumvent defenses by playing a cat-and-mouse waiting game," according to the report. "They wait until most IT and website security professionals leave work, and then launch the bad bots against their infrastructure. A second contributing factor to the after-hours timing of bad bots arises from the nature of users."

"During the typical 7am-5pm business day, a far greater percentage of users access the web from secure connections at organizations with strict rules regarding types of sites visited and actions to take on sites," the report continues. "In the evening, visitors access online sites, applications and content far more from homes and mobile devices that apply less restrictions on the user. This leads to more unprotected computing resources, which bad bot makers leverage to maximize their reach. What it means: US-based organizations need to shore up their defenses during the ‘off’ hours."

Overall, bad bot traffic nearly doubled as a percentage of all Web traffic during 2013, from 12.25 percent to 23.6 percent. The biggest offender was the notorious Pushdo botnet, which is believed to have infected 4.2 million IPs.

"The bad bot landscape is evolving fast, causing varied levels of harm to all Internet stakeholders, especially website owners,” said Distil CEO and co-founder Rami Essaid, in a statement. “Bad bot volume will continue to grow for one simple reason—bots are an effective means to an end for the dark side of the Internet community."

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