Fortinet has announced a new advanced bot protection service designed to detect and respond to malicious bots to address the growing challenges organizations face today from the growing volume of bot-generated traffic. According to a recent study, nearly half of all internet traffic is now bot-generated. And of that, nearly a third is being generated by malicious bots. But in addition to this increase in malicious bot traffic, they have also become more sophisticated. Many can now mimic the behavior of human internet users (for example, bypassing CAPTCHA) to make it harder for legacy security solutions to detect and block them. To address this challenge, organizations need tools that are able to make a distinction not only between bots and human users but also between good and bad bots.

Protecting your organization from the threats posed by bots should now be a fundamental component of any application security strategy, whether cloud-delivered or deployed on-premises. The tricky bit, however, is that not all bots are bad. “Good” bots provide legitimate business services like search engine crawlers, chatbots, and data aggregators. However, bots can also be programmed to carry out a multitude of cyberattacks, including account takeover, web scraping, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), fraud, and inventory depletion. This weaponization of bots has become a major threat to organizations’ websites, APIs, mobile applications, and remote workers.

To address these challenges, Fortinet has enhanced its application security suite within the Fortinet Cloud Security Solution with advanced behavioral analysis capabilities designed to identify the intent of each bot and detect automated threats regardless of where they are operating across your distributed network.

The Risk

Malicious bots carry a number of potential threats. These include:

  • Financial loss: Bots are increasingly being used for online fraud, causing direct revenue loss for businesses. Activities like gift card fraud, account takeovers, inventory scalping, and digital skimming can rob companies of millions in sales. Bots also commonly spread spam and phishing scams, further damaging brand trust and reputation.
  • Service disruption: Performance can degrade quickly when bot floods crush servers with traffic, severely downgrade website response times, or even take sites completely offline. While these DoS attacks create destructive downtime issues for organizations, bots can also hurt site performance indirectly by hogging bandwidth and resources.
  • Data compromise: Bots can harvest user accounts and confidential data through web scraping and unauthorized access. They can probe sites for vulnerabilities and infiltrate backends to steal financial information, intellectual property, and other sensitive assets while enabling follow-on data breaches.

Technical Limitations of Legacy Solutions in Detecting Bot Traffic

The challenge is that many legacy technologies can only identify simple bot attacks based on IP reputation. Even then, many organizations spend time and resources creating scripts and customized rules to enhance their web security and troubleshoot the shortcomings of these older technologies. And because these legacy solutions cannot identify the sophisticated behaviors of these more sophisticated bots, they can bypass protections, gain access to digital assets, and create havoc.

Techniques commonly outsmart legacy solutions include rotating IP addresses and device IDs, changing browsers, generating fictitious keystrokes and mouse movements, operating at random intervals rather than fixed, and even solving CAPTCHA challenges designed to weed out non-human actors.

The Fortinet Approach

New bot management solutions, like those from Fortinet, can distinguish between humans and good and bad bots using something called intent analysis. Our new cloud-based FortiGuard Advanced Bot Protection Service extends the security of digital assets and applications to safeguard them from automated threats. It uses behavioral learning to analyze bot behaviors and attack patterns. It then creates a risk score that allows users to determine their preferred mitigation action. Once a level of response is selected, the FortiGuard Advanced Bot Protection Service leverages a variety of sophisticated identification and prevention techniques to detect and stop malicious bots while allowing legitimate traffic.

Here are some of the ways that the FortiGuard Advanced Bot Protection Service defends your network against bot threats:

  • IP Reputation Database: To start, it maintains a real-time database of known or suspicious IP addresses associated with bots and blocks traffic from them.
  • Browser Fingerprinting: It also creates unique fingerprints for each visitor by examining a variety of browser and device attributes. This allows it to identify users and recognize repeat offenders.
  • Biometric Detection: It can also analyze device interactions, like mouse movements, scrolling behavior, and other human-created patterns, to determine if a user is a human or a bot. Such biometric signals are complicated for bots to fake.
  • Machine Learning: It uses AI to train models on vast datasets to continuously improve and refine bot detection capabilities.
  • Real-Time Threat Intelligence (AI Score): By leveraging the vast FortiGuard Labs global threat intelligence database, it can stay on top of new and emerging bot threats and continuously update protections.
  • Comprehensive Analytics: Detailed bot traffic analytics and attack forensics enhance its understanding of bot patterns and strategies.
  • Integration with FortiADC and FortiWeb: FortiADC application delivery controller optimizes application delivery, enhances performance, and ensures application security, and FortiWeb web application firewall provides advanced protection against application threats. These two vital tools send critical telemetry data to the FortiGuard Advanced Bot Protection Service to provide deeper insights into sophisticated bots for more accurate detection and blocking.
Fortinet Advanced Bot Protection

With sophisticated bots running rampant across today’s distributed networks, businesses need a mitigation solution like the FortiGuard Advanced Bot Protection Service more than ever. As part of the Fortinet Cloud Security Solution, it provides real-time detection, predictive analytics, granular countermeasures, and seamless integration, combined with cutting-edge bot protection that organizations like yours need to protect and operate securely in today’s digital marketplace. Furthermore, its integration with the Fortinet Security Fabric combines application protection with secure networking to deliver a holistic and robust cybersecurity posture that can span today’s distributed network environments.