3 Most Critical Things Bot Management Strategies Overlook

Frank Kyei-Manu Miniatura
Frank Kyei-Manu
Published April 13, 2022

As organizations work diligently to protect their operations and customers from cyber threats, they are finding themselves at a critical inflection point. Automated attacks continue to evolve, enabling bad actors to adapt and bypass basic security defenses with little investment. Just as the proliferation of modern and distributed app architectures—which are built on disaggregated microservices, containers, and APIs—has expanded the attack surface area, so has access to low-cost yet highly effective bot and attacker toolkits. Bots and automated attacks directly result in account takeover (ATO), data breaches, credential spills, denial of service, and fraud.

The associated business implications can be disastrous and include loss of customer trust, damaged brand, fines, increased operational expenses, chargebacks, and disruption to customer loyalty programs. However, current (and widely popular) security solutions in the marketplace like CAPTCHA and multi-factor authentication (MFA) are easily defeated by attackers, and often introduce additional friction and challenges for legitimate customers wanting to transact, resulting in cart abandonment and lost revenue.

The stakes could not be higher. As the relative share of commerce and services transactions continue to shift online, the economic value of your customers’ digital accounts to your organization is increasing. In parallel, attackers will continue to develop more creative ways to compromise them, jeopardizing strategic business imperatives and pressuring your top and bottom lines. You need a strong bot management solution to secure your most valuable assets, your applications, and sensitive data from bots, automated attacks, web scrapers, and other exploits. However, most organizations tend to overlook 3 critical things in their bot management strategy:

1.       A bot detection solution must not only be accurate but also adaptable

When it comes to detecting both good and bad bots, accuracy and adaptability should be table stakes. Enterprises that have tried to mitigate bad bots know the financially motivated and well-resourced attackers behind the bots retool within hours to avoid detection; they mimic humans, they randomize keystrokes and mouse movements, and they easily defeat CAPTCHAs and exploit proxy networks with millions of IP address to bypass deny lists. Enterprises also realize that detecting these advanced bots is terribly difficult, that commodity bot products do not work, and that doing it themselves would consume far too many resources. As a result, your bot detection solution needs to accurately react in real time and maintain resilience as attackers retool. By leveraging machine learning and AI to constantly update detection rules, it should adapt your defenses as attacks and attackers evolve. This ensures that automated malicious transactions are blocked while enabling legitimate transactions that keep your organization and customers’ experiences protected.

Our recently commissioned Forrester Consulting Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) study confirms, in our opinion, that customers improve their efficacy and adaptability when using a modern solution. The study finds that customers using the F5 Distributed Cloud Bot Defense solution minimize bot attacks and subsequently, fraud. The study contains insights from several customer interviews conducted by Forrester which we believe highlight the importance of highly adaptable solutions and validate our accuracy and ability to quickly respond as criminals do. Our customers saw a 92% reduced fraudulent account creation and over 80% improved bot blocking. We've also included F5 customer perspective on the need for an accurate and adaptable solution:

"With bot attacks, the game changes all the time. They’re learning and adapting, and our prior solution could not keep up, putting more burden on our security team." – Engineering director, retail

2.       Expert human intelligence is a necessary complement to artificial intelligence

Businesses must be able to harness insight from data to solve their most complex security and risk problems with maximum effectiveness. For organizations to gain these insights needed for modern security challenges, it is important they leverage a combination of human intelligence and artificial intelligence. However, cybersecurity expertise is a rare asset for many organizations and in short supply today. According to cybercrime magazine, the number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs will be at around 3.5 million through 2025. As this skills gap persists, organizations will need to tap into expertise outside their organizations. A partnership with a bot management vendor who also offers a managed service option can help close this gap.

Not only is F5’s Distributed Cloud Bot Defense built on our industry-leading machine learning technology, it also leverages managed services expert intelligence from our global Support Operations Center (SOC) to deliver comprehensive security and prevent fraud outcomes for customers. A strong bot detection solution coupled with exclusive F5 dedicated resources for individual customers ensures that organizations can fill resource gaps and derive business benefit from dedicated F5 teams who continuously monitor, detect, and mitigate in real-time 24x7x365. Below is an example of a customer quote that highlights the value they realized:

"I would need double my current team size to do the work [Distributed Cloud Bot Defense] is doing for us." – Senior manager of network protection, financial services 

"There have been times when the fraud team is struggling to understand an issue, and the visibility [Distributed Cloud Bot Defense] provided allows our security team to collaborate with them to effectively solve the problem." – CISO, retail

3.       Organizations need flexible deployment and service models to secure their apps wherever and however deployed

You deploy technology that aligns with your operational preferences, technical maturity, and business models. So should your bot management strategy. Easy-to-consume security, with flexible deployment, service levels, and ecosystem integrations, reduces risk and accelerates digital transformation. Applications are everywhere—organizations deploy them in traditional data centers, on multi-public cloud platforms, and/or with microservices in multiple clouds and at the edge. An effective bot management solution needs to be able to secure these apps with consistency wherever and however they are deployed.

F5’s Distributed Cloud Bot Defense offers deployment choices to match your organization’s infrastructure and architecture across fully managed, self-service and hybrid SaaS as well as across mobile and web, without comprimising efficacy or risk. Examples of this flexibility realized in customers include:

“We pay for [Distributed Cloud Bot Defense’s] managed services because they allow us to get the kind of protection we couldn’t do on our own. For example, the managed services help to bind application instances to a trust model for the user currently interacting with our touchpoint, preventing bad actors from pivoting and hiding their behavior.” – CISO, retail 

“Our investigation teams are at least 100% more productive. What used to take them a week can now be done in a couple days.” – Executive director, financial services

​In support of the points above, and Forrester’s recent TEI study, Forrester also makes the following observations of F5 and the company's Distributed Cloud Bot Defense in its most recent report, The Forrester Wave: Bot Management, Q2 2022:

  • We regularly use our ML algorithms to generate new rules and leverage per-customer dynamically generated JavaScript to identify tampering and prevent spoofing.
  • Our move into adjacencies like human account fraud and financial fraud further demonstrate the strength of our market approach.
  • Our innovation initiatives emphasize artificial intelligence and data.
  • A good choice for organizations that prioritize detection and prefer hands-on vendor support to self-service.


By keeping at the top of your consideration set (1) accuracy & adaptability, (2) the strength of a combined human & artificial intelligence, and (3) flexibility and choice in how you deploy and use your solution, you can have a more effective bot management strategy.

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