Online Robot Attacks: How Do They Look Like and How Can We Prevent Them?

January 30, 2024

Nowadays, with the growing interactions and complexity of the online environment, bad actors are leveraging different ways to penetrate websites to steal personal data, conduct payment fraud and other social engineering attacks.

Compared to many years ago when hacking or page hijacking requires considerable effort and capability from cybercriminals, as artificial intelligence (AI) tools increasingly become more accessible, writing bot scripts to attack a website becomes much easier for hackers.

In this article, we will be discussing how website attacks powered by robots look like and how we can prevent them to protect the online environment.

What is a robot (bot) attack?

A bot attack is a kind of cyber attack where the attacker uses automated scripts to disrupt the operations of a website, steal personal data, make fraudulent purchases, or conduct other malicious actions via the internet. The targets of these attacks are not fixed, they could vary among websites, servers, APIs, and other endpoints. Purposes are also different from one attempt to another, but the most common one includes stealing sensitive information or causing some damage to the targeted infrastructure.

What is a bot?

Short for 'robot', 'bot' refers to a software program engineered to automatically perform repetitive and targeted tasks to, in a good sense, help organizations streamline processes and increase efficiency in operations. A good example is search engine bots helping to index websites to provide more accurate search results, while service bots are set to answer the most frequently asked questions and resolve simple, repetitive problems.

On the other hand, bots are also used by bad actors to break into websites for malicious purposes, causing significant harm to end-users and losses to many organizations. A type of bot that is commonly seen on phishing attacks is a malware bot to be downloaded by the victim, causing infection to computers and leak of information. Other than that, they can also carry out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to overwhelm sites with traffic and temporarily take them off the line, which makes it much easier to break in as well.

Why are more and more bot attacks happening?

Attackers nowadays operate in a much more sophisticated way compared to years ago. Just like us, bad actors continuously learn to “work smarter, not harder.”

After conducting bot attacks, cybercriminals will collect financial or personal information online service users/ site visitors to make fraudulent purchases or sell them on the dark web for profit. To carry out fraudulent payments, the bots will be instructed to attack e-commerce sites that are not protected by secure payment protocols, causing service disruption, financial losses for both the business and individual.

The different types of bot attacks

Despite being referred to as bot attacks, there are definitely different types among them. Each is designed and utilized by fraudsters for specific malicious purposes. It's known that any actions by a bot that violates the Terms of Services on a website or its Robots.txt rules are considered malicious. According to our experience in the industry, below are the different types of bot attacks related to payments.

Credential stuffing: this attack is when the attackers use stolen login credentials (sources don't matter) to gain unauthorized access to another website. It takes advantage of the users' bad habit in reusing the same passwords across sites and platforms. The bots in this case will circumvent existing, built-in features in web application login fields by attempting multiple, simultaneous logins, sometimes also from various device types and switching IP addresses. Their objective is to seamlessly blend bot attempts with typical login traffic to hide tracks.

DoS and DDoS attacks: these are conducted with networks of machines (connected to the internet) such as computers or IoT devices. When successfully infecting the network, the attacker sends remote instructions to each bot to overwhelm the target, causing interruptions and downtime.

Brute force password hacking: this is where hackers use bots to attack and infiltrate accounts by trying every possible password combination (at speed).

How can my business prevent bot attacks?

Many clients have come to HiTRUST for detailed consultations on how to deal with the increasing threats from fraudsters on both website operations and payments. While there is yet to be a way to stop bad actors from doing their thing, there are several strategies that businesses can use to prevent these attacks.

Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA)

One of the most common ways to add an extra layer to site access is to request users to authenticate themselves once again after keying in their credentials. MFA can be implemented via OTP, push-app, tokens, biometrics, and more. The upside of this method is that it ensures a certain degree of security, however, depending on the channel, friction could be added to the user journey. This consequential friction is often seen as a negative experience by end-users for payment flows.

Establish allowlists and blocklists

While requesting much effort to carry out, this method is adopted by many businesses. What you will need to do is to create two different lists to indicate the trusted users that can be allowed to access your site easily without having to overcome any challenges. The other list will be crafted based on the strange or alarming accounts that will not be allowed on your site. Apart from referring to your historical data, you could also take reference from many public databases that include numerous suspicious accounts or IP addresses.

Onboard a fraud detection solution

Fraud detection systems are often leveraged in the financial and banking industry to ensure that payments are made safe and from the rightful account/ card holder. These systems are deployed into the business' existing platform to collect various information from the user, related to their browsing behavior, and analyze them to provide a relative risk score.

From these analyses and risk scores, businesses can take specific actions to challenge or block the login or transaction directly before it could cause any harm.

Introducing Veri-id

As part of our solution suite, Veri-id is an AI and Machine Learning powered real-time fraud detection system for your online platform. Taking advantage of our patented Device Fingerprint technology, Veri-id collected up to 100 fields of information to analyze and perform AI risk scoring.

Veri-id's features include explainable AI models, rule engine to preset decision-making paths, smart scheduling schemes for e-commerce platform's sale seasons and more. With this risk detection tool, businesses can thoroughly understand the underlying risks for each login session or transaction, while maintaining an uninterrupted service journey for your user/client.

Contact us today

When it comes to attack prevention, it's best to start as early as possible. Contact us via our email at or via our website at and LinkedIn Page at for more information.