Global Share of Bot-Traffic on the Internet

Bots are machines (computers), which crawl the Internet to collect information or provide assistance. As with anything, these bots can be good or bad. Some bots are helpful and assist in daily Internet usage while others don't aim to help and do harm to people or societies.

What are examples of good or bad bots?

Examples of good bots include moderation bots, which remove spam from online communities or the Wikipedia-bot on Reddit. It is replys with the first paragraph of the linked Wikipedia article to posts which include a link to Wikipedia. This helps to avoid additional work and adds context to the conversation. These bots are generally considered helpful.

Other bots aren't considered helpful; instead, they work to provide a benefit to an individual or group only. Examples include email-collection bots. These bots crawl the web with the aim of finding email addresses which have been exposed. These Internet users often receive email spam afterwards.

How many bots are there?

Imperva has conducted a study of bot traffic on their platform. They analysed over 16.7 billion visits on 100,000 randomly-selected domains using the Incapsula service between 2012 and 2016. The study aims to find answers to the following questions:

  • How much website traffic is generated by bots?
  • How are bad bots used in cyberattacks?
  • What drives good bot visits to various websites and services?
  • Which are the most active good and bad bots?

Here we look at the share of bots traffic in the overall traffic of the above-mentioned subset: