From Joe Biden pledging to “close the digital divide”, to the UK almost halving the number of homes without internet access in 2020, governments worldwide are convinced that access to online services is essential for a fairer, more productive society and economy. But this isn’t the whole story.
About the author
Chris Waynforth is Area Vice President at Imperva.
Just being online doesn’t guarantee everyone the same access to products and services. People with the right technical knowledge are better positioned to buy products and access services, and bots are a growing reason for it.
A bot-driven economy widens the gap between the “haves” and “have nots”
Most are aware of the concept of bots – automated software that performs repetitive tasks on the internet — whether it’s providing website help functions, automated customer service or scraping data for search engines. However, there is an increasing number of “bad” bots trafficking the internet – those that are harder to stop and closely mimic human behavior. They’re programmed to harvest personal information for fraud, perform account takeover or take down websites.
Historically, scalping bots were used to hoard concert or sporting tickets – a trend that ultimately forced changes in legislation around ticket resale. Over the past year, bots have infiltrated more industries and are causing havoc in daily life. Throughout the global pandemic, bots snatched up gaming consoles and graphics cards, making it harder for everyday consumers to find popular items for purchase online. More recently, there is evidence that bots are being used to track COVID-19 vaccination availability – a “helpful” service for many, but still a concern for organizations that are the origin of the data and see their sites being slowed down or taken offline by increased levels of automated traffic.
For those with the knowledge or resources to use a bot operator, there are significant advantages: they can jump the queue to acquire popular new products, secure a reservation and more. Before you know it, bots could be booking reservations to the beer garden or placing a Tesco order.
All of this activity will ultimately further split…