The latest study from Incapsula, a cloud-based web security and performance service company found that bot traffic increased by 21% to 61.5% compared with the 38.5% traffic generated by humans this year.

Bot Traffic

Growth of bot traffic

The study indicated that the significant growth of bot traffic was due to the increase of visits by good bots, up by 20% to 30% in 2013. Incapsula explained that the emergence of new online services paved the way for the introduction of new bot types such as SEO-oriented services that crawl to a site at an average rate of 30-50 visits per day.

The firm also explained that the activities of existing good bots such as search engine-type crawlers increased.

Malicious bots

The study also found the 31% of bots are malicious, but with lesser spammers. The web security firm noticed that the amount of bot activity from spammers declined from 2% last year to 0.05% this year. According to the firm, the best explanation for the decline of spammers was due to the anti-spam campaign of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG).

According to Incapsuala, “Based on our figures, it looks like Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) was able to discourage link spamming practices, causing a 75% decrease in automated link spamming activity.”

The study also found evidence of more sophisticated hacking activity. The web security firm said the activity of “other impersonators,” a group consists if unclassified bots with hostile intentions increased by 8% to 20.5%.

Browser user-agents

“The common denominator for this group is that all of its members are trying to assume someone else’s identity. For example, some of these bots use browser user-agents while others try to pass themselves as search engine bots or agents of other legitimate services. The goal is always the same – to infiltrate their way through the website’s security measures,” according to Incapsula.

The web security firm said the impersonators represent a higher-tier in the both hierarchy in terms of capabilities and functionality. Such impersonators could be automated spy bots, human-like DDoS agents or a Trojan-activated barebones browser. The firm added, “These are also the tools of top-tier hackers who are proficient enough to create their own malware.”