Bots now running the Internet with 61 percent of Web traffic

Both good bots and bad bots can be found lurking online -- looking to either drive traffic or wreak havoc.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Bot vs. human Web traffic distribution. Incapsula

With much trepidation, I must report that there is a pretty good chance that half the visitors to this story will not be human.

According to a recent study by Incapsula, more than 61 percent of all Web traffic is now generated by bots, a 21 percent increase over 2012.

Much of this increase is due to "good bots," certified agents such as search engines and Web performance tools. These friendly bots saw their proportion of traffic increase from 20 percent to 31 percent.

Incapsula believes that the growth of good bot traffic comes from increased activity of existing bots, as well as new online services, like search engine optimization.

"For instance, we see newly established SEO oriented services that crawl a site at a rate of 30-50 daily visits or more," Incapsula wrote in a blog post.

But, along with the good comes the bad. That other 30 percent of bot traffic is from malicious bots, including scrapers, hacking tools, spammers, and impersonators. However, malicious bot traffic hasn't increased much over 2012 and spam bot activity has actually decreased from 2 percent to 0.5 percent.

Of the malicious bots, the "other impersonators" category has increased the most -- by 8 percent. According to Incapsula, this group of unclassified bots is in the higher-tier of bot hierarchy -- they have hostile intentions and are most likely why there's been a noted increase in cyberattacks over the last year.

"The common denominator for this group is that all of its members are trying to assume someone else's identity," Incapsula wrote. "For example, some of these bots use browser user-agents while others try to pass themselves as search engine bots or agents of other legitimate services. The goal is always the same -- to infiltrate their way through the website's security measures."

Here's to hoping the bot visitors that do come to this story are of the benign kind.