With more than 980+ cyber security breaches across all online businesses and 35 million accounts exposed. Yahoo! In a 2016 report, disclosed that more than 1 billion accounts have been stolen. $400 billion was reportedly lost to cyber attacks across all industries this year. With this trend, the losses are set to top out at around $2.1 Trillion by 2019.
Now, let’s look at the top 4 incidences of bots that altered history in 2016.
Brexit: Automated social media accounts produced by both sides of the debate created these bots to have a massive influence on the referendum vote; especially on those last-minute ‘undecideds’ Researchers from Oxford University have found that bots played a strategic role during the debate. The social media bots helped to circulate ‘repetitive’ political content to manipulate the thinking of the general public. Social media bots had a very simple role to play during Brexit, they had to tweet pro or anti Brexit tweets over and over again or just retweet /share messages of influencers on either side. This helped them float the message they wanted for a much longer time, on the social media platforms than required.
US elections: As per Twitter Audit, Donald Trump’s twitter account had almost 40% inactive, fake and spam followers, while Hillary Clinton had around 37%. The number roughly adds up to more than 7 million fake/inactive bot accounts that were circulating messages across the globe. These bot accounts helped in propagating messages for both the candidates involved and heavily influenced the undecided voter.
Under the scanner, Impact of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media might be not be considered a serious threat. But the bots spreading propaganda are usually encountered by journalists who use social media. Journalists, in-turn, interpret these bot propagated messages as a trend among people and report it. This increases the influence of such bad social media bots even more. It is crazy how bots can influence and change the course of history for 2 major nations last year, and it’s just the beginning. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s apprehensions on bots manipulating the upcoming German elections are not unfounded.
Good chatbots went bad: When Microsoft launched Tay (AI Twitter chat bot) on March 23, 2016, it was the start of a new era. Tay was programmed to learn from its interactions with real users on twitter. Tay, however, ended up becoming a vulgar, racist bot within a few hours. The bot, however, was taken down by Microsoft within 16 hours. By and by, Tay tweeted 96,000 times before it went offline.
According to a famous online ticket selling website, TicketMaster. In 2016, bots tried to buy 5 billion tickets, or 10,000 a minute, on their website. This resulted in 60% of the tickets getting scalped by bots.
With the surge in malicious bots, there is a need to stop them before they could harm your online businesses. Bots have been increasingly malicious and damaging for all online businesses.
So, have you thought about how your online business may be silently targeted by bad bots? How is your 2017 IT roadmap poised to address bot threats?
About the Author Benjamin Raj Kumar
(Security Affairs – bots, malware)