Stop Shopping Bots & Content Scraping

Not all attacks on your company’s digital resources will take the same form. In fact, some of today’s most common threat types don’t employ hacking at all. Rather, threat actors are interested in exploiting the features of your web apps, mobile apps and APIs by using bots and automation to generate seemingly legitimate traffic.
These business logic abuses, whether they take the form of online shopping bot traffic, content scraping attacks, or others, can be difficult to detect and hard to prevent. Unless you find a reliable way to detect and stop business logic abuse, your organization can be subjected to fraud, data loss, business disruption and customer losses due to a disappointing shopping experience.

Stay Aware of Today's Top Business Logic Abuse Risks

If your company offers online shopping via web apps or mobile apps, these applications are likely built on a framework of APIs. Developers today have enthusiastically embraced APIs as a quick and consistent way to add functionality to their software. However, you should make sure your apps and their underlying APIs are protected — business logic abuses targeting API infrastructure have been rising alongside the overall use of this technology.

Shopping Bots

Your online shopping tools could become targets for bad bots that take advantage of the same API advantages developers love to abuse your e-commerce shop, no matter what type of merchandise you’re selling. While the first wave of shopping bots, or “grinch bots,” focused primarily on limited-quantity items such as shoes or tickets to events, the technology has become more common since the sneaker bot era. Now all businesses are susceptible to these bots buying up all stock of an item in seconds, ruining the shopping experience or causing chaos during high-demand times such as Black Friday.
When bad bots strike your website, your legitimate customers could find themselves unable to make purchases, defeated by a combination of scale and automation. This is a recipe for a bad customer experience, which may damage loyalty and brand reputation. Trying to fight back against shopping bots after the sales have been made can incur high fraud resolution costs.
Rather than seeking out bugs in code, shopping bots seek out exploitable business logic features within web apps and APIs. Since bot traffic often resembles legitimate activity, it can be exceedingly difficult to detect and prevent shopping bots. However, to run a successful online shopping portal, your IT security team must find a solution.

Content Scraping

Another bot attack type, content scraping, is designed to extract as much information as possible from web apps and APIs. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) explains that in these attacks, the threat actors’ bots use all available pathways to gather all accessible data.
Attackers may be extracting complete, real-time price data for competitive advantage, using that data to power their own automated retail operations. Scraping is a key element to a successful shopping bot described above as the attacker needs to collect specific information about their target purchase. The threat actors could also be using these attacks to learn how a system functions or launch an account takeover attack. Often minimized as merely cutting and pasting, the business impact of content scraping should not be overlooked. Content scraping leads to loss of intellectual property, increased IT infrastructure costs and when done by a competitor, can mean lost customer. In a 2021 Forrester survey of 400+ organizations, only 15% of businesses were protecting themselves against web scraping attacks, yet 73% face such an attack on a weekly basis. And 63% report losing between 1% and 10% of their revenue to web scraping attacks alone.

Gift Card Fraud

There are a variety of related fraud types identified in the OWASP list of automated threats based on the general concept of entering falsified information to fraudulently use customers’ credit card information or redeem unclaimed gift card balances. There are numerous techniques attackers will use to execute gift card fraud — all of which are made easier by targeting APIs.
Bots that perform business logic abuse using enumeration techniques to cycle through patterns at a high rate of speed to find out the potential range of gift card numbers a business may use. Then another form of automation is used to execute balance checks until they succeed in finding value to redeem. Since bot attacks can flood a web app with traffic, these attempts may succeed through sheer brute force. The impact can be significant, spanning both IT infrastructure and bank service fees.

Protect the Bottom Line by Preventing Shopping Bots, Content Scraping and More

Since business logic abuse is based on exploiting the explosive use of APIs rather than breaking into these systems more traditionally, it can be hard to detect and prevent them. Basic automated security tools may not be able to quickly or easily determine whether to block bot traffic, leaving companies vulnerable to the resultant fraud in the interim.
Such a failure to stop malicious bot traffic could be highly damaging to your business, as the bad bots could render online shopping features inoperative, scrape data to be used against you, or even redeem fraudulent gift card balances, effectively stealing value from your business. Suffering from consistent business logic abuse attacks may undermine customer confidence in your company and harm the bottom line.
A legacy approach to security won’t suffice when it comes to stopping bot-based business logic abuses. What your company needs is a real-time way to effectively detect malicious bot traffic and block it. This is best accomplished with a modern tool set based on behavior-based threat detection and flexible, customizable mitigation.

Address Top Business Logic Abuse Challenges with Cequence Security

Using Cequence API Spartan is the premier way to keep business logic abuses from striking at your web apps, mobile apps and their underlying API infrastructure. By employing analysis powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, Cequence API Spartan can analyze incoming traffic to detect even hard-to-spot business logic abuses.
Having such an advanced system in place is essential, as today’s threat actors have taken to continually reconfiguring their online shopping bot attacks, content scraping tools and gift card cracking bots to avoid detection. The application, delivered on an agentless software-as-a-service model, smoothly integrates into your workflows without disrupting their normal functioning or introducing new security gaps.Top features of Cequence API Spartan include:

Protection in Minutes

Since the technology functions through traffic redirection to a SaaS instance of API Spartan, there is no need for a days- or weeks-long installation process. Your improved defense can be up and running in as little as 15 minutes. A large organization in the telecom field onboarded a new API in 30 minutes and stopped a live attack, with 25 of those minutes spent on a phone call.

No Need for JavaScript or SDK Integration

The machine-learning-based artificial intelligence threat analysis performed by Cequence API Spartan doesn’t require integration, which reduces developer workloads and accelerates time-to-protection while eliminating web app page load delays and forced mobile upgrade penalties.

Consistent Bot Protection for Web Apps and APIs

Attackers often search for vulnerabilities in APIs when targeting their business logic abuses. Cequence API Spartan allows you to deploy consistent visibility and protection that reaches both apps and underlying APIs.

High-efficacy Bot Protection Out Of the Box

While it’s possible to configure and customize threat profiles over time, Cequence API Spartan grants a high degree of protection from day one. It does this with policies based on advanced threat intelligence, pattern observation and records of common malicious infrastructure.
With this defense tool in place, you can create a positive customer experience and give your IT security teams peace of mind, protected from some of today’s most elusive yet dangerous threats.

The Journey to Unified API Protection

Cequence Security believes in taking a holistic approach to defending against API-related data risk with a market-defining Unified API Protection solution that goes beyond API security approaches that may focus solely on one aspect of the API protection journey. Achieving true peace of mind for comprehensive API attack protection means traveling through six distinct steps associated with the Unified API Protection solution:
Cequence The Journey to Unified API Protection
Discovery: Viewing an organization’s API attack surface from a threat actor perspective to know the unknown.
Inventory: Performing a comprehensive multi-cloud API inventory, including all existing APIs and connections.
Testing: Integrating API protection into development, which shifts API security left within the organization, so risky code doesn’t go live.
Compliance: Keeping APIs in compliance with specifications, standards and regulations such as OWASP and ensuring ongoing API governance.
Detection: Continuous scanning for threats, including subtle business logic abuse, fraud, and automated malicious activity from bots.
Prevention: Employing countermeasures such as alerts, real-time blocking, deception, without the need for added third-party data security tools.
Unified API Protection is different from fragmented or incomplete API security offerings because it’s a methodology designed to account for multiple types of risk, across every phase of the API protection lifecycle.

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