Cloudflare has introduced “Friendly Bots,” a new way to verify an online bot’s identity.
Bots are applications designed to automatically perform specific, repetitive tasks online without the need for human oversight.
Many bots are set to beneficial tasks such as crawling web pages, for analytics, providing payment services, chatting to website users, and giving them advice or pointing them to the right customer service department — but not all.
So-called ‘bad’ bots can be used to scrape user data, send spam, overwhelm a domain with traffic and disrupt services (DoS/DDoS attacks), or perform automatic account access attempts in what is known as credential stuffing.
In an effort to stop malicious bots from causing too much havoc online, some online service providers implement allow and deny lists to stop known bad bots from accessing resources.
However, according to Cloudflare, there are many “well-behaved” bots online — and so it can be a challenge to maintain a balance between the good and the bad.
“At Cloudflare, we manually “verify” good bots, so they don’t get blocked,” the firm says. “Our customers can choose to allowlist any bot that is verified. Unfortunately, new bots are popping up faster than we can verify them.”