Black Friday or Bot Friday: bots will make your shopping experience miserable

Shopping holidays, such as Amazon Prime Day, Cyber Monday, and Black Friday, are a treasure trove for threat actors, given millions of unattentive users and an army of bots scouting for the best deals.

Threat actors darkened the second Amazon Prime Day in mid-October. Cybersecurity company CHEQ analyzed 6 million visits to its e-commerce customers during Amazon Prime Week (October 9-15) and discovered that around 18% of traffic likely came from bots and fake users.

The company said fake traffic is a year-round frustration for retailers, with bot operators constantly trying to snatch up the most popular items and resell them illegally.

As we approach the holiday season, bots traffic will likely increase, and CHEQ predicts that at least 46 million “shoppers” this coming Black Friday will be fake users.

“To drain budgets, skew metrics, and commit malicious acts, bots and fake users very frequently tend to click on advertisements they encounter online. This can be done on paid search platforms, advertisements on social media networks, and other forms of display and text ads,” the company said.

Most online purchases begin with an organic search and non-paid bot traffic to e-commerce sites, which typically increases during shopping holidays.

Invalid traffic takes up an advertising budget originally dedicated to driving revenue from legitimate users. When an ad is served to bots and fake users, that portion of the budget is practically wasted.

CHEQ predicts that retailers will lose about $368 million to fraudulent clicks during this Black Friday alone.

Moreover, companies will likely lose $3.3 billion due to bots abandoning carts. In most cases, shoppers change their minds after finding the same item with a more lucrative price elsewhere or due to simply not wanting the chosen product anymore.

However, fake users and bots also toy with carts, holding up inventory, skewing metrics, overwhelming servers, and making the shopping process harder for real customers.

Last year, bots and fake users made up 35.7% of all online shoppers on Black Friday. E-commerce fraud was committed by malicious scrapers and crawlers, sophisticated botnets, bogus accounts, click farms, proxy users, and a host of illegitimate users.

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