Bots are software applications that run automated tasks on the internet. Some bots are harmless, and are used to simply save time (because they can complete repetitive tasks faster than humans). Twitter, for example, may use data bots to generate up-to-date information like news or the weather forecast. Search engines like Google also use bots to scour the internet for answers to your questions. Even comparison websites such as Expedia use bots to find you the best deals on hotels.
However, as with most things on the internet, bots have a dark side. They can be used to create false user or agency accounts, bombard your site with “fake” views that skew marketing data, or even steal content from your site. So it’s important to be aware of the “bad” bots you may encounter as a Connect site manager—and know that we’re here to help!
What are “bad” bots?
Have you ever had to confirm that you weren’t a robot before entering a website? This is one measure that is taken to stop the bad bots from getting through.
There are lots of types of bad bots. Many of these bots use “spam” to direct web traffic. Bad bots will look for public forms to fill out automatically (like a user registration or the comments section of a webpage) in hopes of posting ads or links to another site. You’ve probably seen blog comments or received an email that read, “Check out my site! >>>> [link to suspicious site].” Sometimes bots can be tricky to spot because they are coded to emulate human behavior. Other bots are designed to bombard a site to steal content or hold up available bandwidth (making it tricky for real users to access the information they’re looking for).
I’m a Connect site manager. What should I look out for?
Your Connect site uses forms to register users, agencies, and programs. You probably have a general idea as to the number and types of users and agencies who register with your platform. Below we’ve listed the types of unusual bot activity that site managers should be aware of:
- A sudden influx in new user or agency registrations (often with unusual names)
- An unexpected (and often extreme) increase in site visits
- Multiple registrants using similar email addresses and unusual names (often within a short window)
- Forms filled out incorrectly (i.e. international postcodes paired with U.S. states, or full names in the first name field), signalling a fake user profile.
Most Connect managers will not encounter bots, but it’s important to look out for unusual activity. You can do this by checking your user-management area regularly for new users, and by checking your site’s Google Analytics accounts for a spike in site visits.
I’ve suspected a bot. What do I do?
If you suspect a user is not a real person, you can deactivate their account. To stop bots from occurring again, Galaxy Digital’s tech team can install ReCaptcha for you. When users click to register, ReCaptcha provides a simple prompt that’s easy for humans to figure out, but tricky for bots. Contact Customer Care, and we’ll put ReCaptcha in place for you. If it’s too late and spam bots have registered lots of users—or you’re just not sure if a profile is a bot or human—Customer Care can help you there, too. While complete bad-bot annihilation across the internet is not possible today, Galaxy Digital has measures in place to help minimize bot traffic on your site.
Bad bot occurrences on Connect sites are rare, but knowing what to look out for will help you combat and report suspicious activity should it arise. We’ve worked diligently to put measures into place to prevent bad bots, and we’re prepared to assist you as needed if you do suspect a bad bot on your site.