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The Majority of Web Traffic Comes From Robots

While humans may be very good at surfing the internet, this is yet another thing that robots do better

smithsonian.com

Every day, millions of people surf the internet. But they’re slowly becoming outnumbered by another entity on the web: robots. A new report by Incapsula, a company that manages web traffic and security for websites, estimates that humans only account for 40 percent of the traffic to any given website. 

The study Incapsula did spent 90 days looking at 1.45 billion website visits over 20,000 sites in the Incapsula network. The percent of bots on the web has been slowly growing. In 2012, humans were almost half the web traffic, losing to the bots by just one percent.

But according to Incapsula, most of these bots are not malicious. Only about 5 percent of them are hackers or spammers. Some are search engines, and others impersonators who aren’t actively trying to hurt users or websites. And the percent of bad bots is going down. In their 2012 report, Incapsula estimated that 60 percent of the bots were malicious. The 2013 report estimates that that number had dropped down to 31 percent. And spammers dropped from 2 percent to just a half a percent in 2013.

But they also say that while the malicious bots are down, those that are left are more sophisticated:

In terms of their functionality and capabilities, such “Impersonators” usually represent a higher-tier in the bot hierarchy. These can be automated spy bots, human-like DDoS agents or a Trojan-activated barebones browser. One way or another, these are also the tools of "career hackers", who are proficient enough to create their own malware and opperate their own DDoS Botnets.

So while humans may be very good at surfing the internet, this is another thing that robots do better. 

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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