How Much of the Internet is Bots in 2023? An In-Depth Analysis for Small Businesses

As an entrepreneur running a small business online, understanding the scope of internet bots impacting websites and apps is crucial to stay secure and drive growth. Recent data shows that bots account for over 47% of total web traffic today – so what does this mean for small businesses?

The Startling Growth of Internet Bots

Let‘s first analyze how good and bad bot traffic has grown over the past decade:

Bot Traffic Growth 2013-2022

Some key takeaways:

  • Bad bots have seen 125% growth since 2013, rising from 23.6% to 30.2% of web traffic
  • After a steep rise in 2014, good bots have plateaued to 17.3%
  • Combined bot traffic went from 43% in 2013 to 47.4% in 2022 – almost half the internet

What‘s driving this growth? Generative AI and automated tooling have made it cheaper and easier to create more sophisticated bots – a trend that‘s poised to accelerate over the next 10 years.

So what do these bots actually do? Let‘s break it down…

Good Bots vs Bad Bots

Good bots perform helpful tasks like:

  • Web crawling and indexing
  • Content aggregation
  • Site monitoring
  • Backlink checking

Sometimes good bots can skew analytics, but they‘re not directly harmful.

Bad bots however, have malicious intent to:

  • Scrape and steal proprietary data
  • Conduct cyberattacks like DDoS
  • Credential stuffing to compromise accounts
  • Exploit application vulnerabilities
  • Other threats discussed below

Industries Facing Greatest Bad Bot Threats

Gaming – 58.7% bad bot traffic

With user credentials and payment information ripe for theft, gaming sites are highly targeted. Drops of limited edition items also draw bad bots.

Finance – 45.8% advanced bad bots

Bot operators go after personally identifiable information and account credentials which can lead to fraud.

Travel – 63.4% advanced bad bots

Bots target loyalty rewards programs and scrape flight and hotel pricing data. This data can then be used for unfair competition.

Retail ecommerce – 51.9% advanced bad bots

Inventory data, pricing details and loyalty programs face threats. Competitor sites also unleash bad bots leading to scraping and unfair pricing tactics.

Bad Bot Threats Faced By Small Businesses

As a small business owner, the types of bad bot threats I’ve frequently faced include:

  • Web scraping bots that steal pricing data, images and other proprietary content. This data then illegally appears on competitor sites.
  • Spam bots that flood contact forms and registration flows aiming to spread malware. They also create fake user accounts.
  • Scalper bots that target popular merchandise and limited-edition items, buying them out instantly during sales. The items then get resold at highly inflated prices.
  • Password attack bots that carry out credential stuffing using breached username/password combos. Once they gain entry, data and assets can be compromised.

Pro tip: Monitor site traffic closely for patterns signaling bot attacks e.g. spikes at odd-hours or gibberish inputs

Rise of Mobile Bad Bots

With mobile usage growing, 39.1% of bad bot traffic is aimed at mobile:

Mobile Bad Bot Traffic

This trend means mobile apps and sites must be secured. API protections are also critical.

Global Breakdown of Bad Bot Traffic

The US leads bad bot traffic globally at 41.8%, followed by:

  • Australia – 16.4%
  • UK – 6.7%
  • France – 3.6%
  • Germany – 2.8%

For small businesses, targeting countries known to have higher bad bot concentrations can help prioritize protections.

How Can Small Businesses Fight Back?

  • Monitor traffic for unusual patterns indicating bots
  • Implement bot management solutions to detect threats
  • Strengthen API protections since they are common targets
  • Frequently update bot detection patterns/rules
  • Educate staff on cybersecurity best practices

With vigilance, threat intelligence and the right tools, small businesses can thrive safely despite the bots!

Statistics Source: 2023 Imperva Bad Bot Report. Analysis and commentary by [Your Name], Small Business Consultant & Entrepreneur