Retailers and e-commerce marketers were rejoicing at record sales during the Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday seasons. Although the growth has been promising for bottom lines, some researchers suggest that all the holiday shopping traffic might not be coming from humans.
The cybersecurity firm CHEQ’s analysis of 1.6 million visits to retailers’ websites found that about a fourth of Black Friday shoppers were likely fake. Meanwhile, CHEQ’s analysis of 765,000 visits on Cyber Monday showed that 1 in 5 was likely from bot traffic.
“Like any good crime, there’s a combination of motive, means and opportunity,” said Daniel Avital, CHEQ’s chief strategy officer. “And I think specifically in e-commerce, that triad is very much pronounced … There’s a lot of money being put around, and that’s always appealing for bad actors online.”’
Another recent report from Okta revealed that 23% of sign-up attempts for promotions were fraudulent — up from 15% last year – with rewards programs being a key target. Okta also saw an increase in bot traffic during the week of Thanksgiving, especially for retail, food and beverage and financial services categories.
Bot traffic has really created a menace for businesses this holiday season, albeit the volume of traffic has shown slight improvement from the figures last year. In 2021, 1 in 3 Black Friday shopping visits were reported to be fake. According to research from Imperva, bad bot traffic increased by 73% in November 2021.