Bots are pernicious parasites that cause considerable damage to your WordPress website. Bots are used to hack your website, steal your data, and bring down your website for ransom.
If you have a WooCommerce website, your product and pricing information is a goldmine. Bots are used to scrape and sell your data to your competitors.
In short, bots are a major security threat, and cost billions in losses globally every year. WordPress Bot protection is a non-negotiable part of your website security.
In this article, we are going to talk about how you can protect your website, your visitors, and your data from spam bots, while still ensuring your website has the best possible experience. The best part is the only thing you have to do is install MalCare.
What are bots exactly?
Here’s an astonishing fact many of us don’t consider: not every visitor to our WordPress website is a human being. Anywhere between 25% to 50% of all traffic seen by WordPress websites is bot traffic.
Bots are programs designed to visit your website for a variety of different reasons. As we will see shortly, some of these reasons are good; but the vast majority is to harm and cause damage.
After reading the bad effects of bad bots, it may be tempting to want to block the lot. This is not the solution, primarily because good bots are essential to any website.
Google uses bots to index your website, so more people can find you. It is important for your website SEO that GoogleBot has unfettered access to your website.
If you are serving ads on your site, the ads platform may crawl your site to determine which ads are most suitable for your visitors. On the other hand, if you are running ads to drive traffic to your site, ad networks also have bots that crawl your site.
Other legitimate bots are uptime monitoring bots which alert you in case your site goes down for any reason, or payment processors. APIs, which allow you to connect to different services and extend functionality, also use bots.
Good bots need to be allowed to visit your website. MalCare’s Bot Protection for WordPress intelligently blocks ONLY bad bot activity, without blocking good bot access ever.
In 2020, almost 25% of total internet traffic was bad bot activity.
Bots are often responsible for all the things that we hate about the internet: theft, data privacy violations, spoofing, scraping and even slow websites.
Are your users finding it challenging to use your online store? Are you seeing a ton of spammy comments? Is your website not loading at all? These are all signs of bad bot activity.
Alright, we have used the word ‘damage’ a lot in this article already. Let’s talk about damage in more concrete terms: what damage can a spam bot do to your WordPress website?
Brute force attacks: To gain unauthorized access to your website, thousands of username-password combinations are launched on your website.
This is known as a brute force attack, and in addition to the danger of unauthorised access, it has the additional side effect of overwhelming your website with a huge number of requests. Often, this increased activity will overload your website resources and prevent legitimate users from visiting your website.
Brute force attacks can also bring down your website entirely.
Excessive consumption of server resources: Bots can use up server resources, like CPU cycles and network bandwidth, with repeated requests. The requests can be due to a brute force attack, or even data scraping.
If you are using shared hosting space, your web host will certainly cap your resource usage, otherwise it will start affecting the performance of other websites on the same server.
Apart from your host, you will see a decline in website performance. The bot will use up resources that should be used to serve visitors’ requests instead, and provide them with a good experience.
Malware attacks: Bots are used to hack into your website and steal from you—your SEO ranking, your visitors’ data, your data—everything that you have achieved with your website.
Why is MalCare’s WordPress Bot Protection so effective?
The great advantage of our WordPress Bot Protection plugin is that it works out of the box. You don’t need to configure anything, update anything, or even monitor anything. You are receiving the best bot protection possible for your WordPress, without lifting a finger—except to install the plugin, of course.
Intelligently blocks bad bots and IPs
MalCare’s firewall protects over 250,000 websites globally in partnership with the top hosting providers. We analyze data from each of these websites, and preemptively block spambots and bad IPs from all the sites we protect.
This means that any website MalCare protects gets the best possible protection currently available, which is especially important since threats are constantly evolving.
No configuration or website hardening needed
WordPress site admins go to extraordinary lengths to protect their websites, in order to prevent spambot attacks.
Some admins identify which countries are the source of most bot traffic. If they don’t expect traffic from that country or region, they block traffic from the entire country. Geoblocking is an imprecise, and therefore not a great, solution. Similarly, admins manually block bad IPs, but again, this is a work-intensive solution that does not scale.
Many WordPress hardening articles will recommend hiding the login page, in order to prevent brute force login attacks. We do not advocate this practice for many reasons, one of which is that a bot can still try gaining access via XML-RPC requests.
WordPress Bot protection needs to be done in real-time, as requests come in, to be of any use at all. The requests shouldn’t hit the website servers at all, thereby preventing attacks like credential stuffing and brute force attacks slowing down the website, or causing downtimes.
Doesn’t slow down your website
WordPress spam Bot Protection blocks bad bots even before WordPress loads. This reduces resources used by these bots on your site. Analyzing all the data created by bots needs a lot of processing power. All this heavy-lifting is done by MalCare servers and no load is put on your site.
Valid requests are never blocked
MalCare analyses requests based on a matrix of 25+ characteristics to detect harmful behavior in bots. Search engine crawlers like GoogleBot are allowed to pass through to your site without a problem, as are other good bots.
In the rarest event that you think a bot or IP is blocked in error, you can go into your dashboard and whitelist it.
What impact does WordPress spam Bot Protection have on your traffic?
Bots rarely, if ever, show up in Google Analytics. Therefore, you will not see any drop in your stats.
Our WordPress bot protection feature is exclusive to MalCare, and has already been battle-tested on websites with the largest hosting providers. We already protect over 100,000 websites, and this has made our process stronger and harder for bad actors to beat.
We will continue to refine the algorithm for bot protection, in line with the expanding threat landscape.
Have questions? Reach out to us! We would love to hear from you.