Freebie Bots Make it Easy to Locate and Purchase Erroneously Priced In-Demand Goods at a Massive Discount, Impacting Hundreds of Retailers’ Revenues and Infrastructure Costs
Kasada, provider of the most effective and easiest way to defend against advanced bot attacks, today shared the results of its latest threat intelligence, detailing the growing prevalence of Freebie Bots. Freebie Bots are used to automatically scan retail websites for mispriced goods and services, and purchase them at scale before the error is fixed.
Kasada research has found more than 250 retail companies recently being targeted by Freebie Bots, with over 7 million messages being sent monthly in freebie communities. Members within one popular freebie community used Freebie Bots to purchase nearly 100,000 products in a single month, at a combined retail value of $3.4 million. Kasada’s research reveals that the total cost of the goods for Freebie Bot users was only $882, helping some individuals to realize a monthly profit of over $100,000.
The top items purchased using Freebie Bots during this time period included off-brand sleeveless halter neck mini dresses, Apple MacBook Air laptops, and deep cleansing facial masks. Many pricing errors were a result of decimal point misplacement, granting discounts as large as 99%. Using the speed and scale of a bot attack to rapidly purchase as much stock of these erroneously priced goods as possible, actors then turn around and resell the goods for a large profit.
“Retailers are already facing pressures this holiday season due to inflation and the annual recurrence of Grinch Bots,” said Sam Crowther, founder and CEO of Kasada. “Adding Freebie Bots to the mix gives retailers another headache to deal with, one that directly hits their revenues, as they’re compelled to fulfill orders made with pricing errors.”
In addition to impacting a retailer’s inventory, revenue and brand, Freebie Bots also increase infrastructure expenses. These bots enable tens of thousands of users to automatically issue requests across an entire product catalog in parallel – and do so every couple of seconds or less. Retailers, at great cost, need to maintain a strong site architecture in order to handle this demand without crashing or becoming unavailable to regular shoppers. Preventing Freebie Bots from gaining access in the first place would help to lower these costs.
“It has become very easy for anyone to purchase and utilize a bot – and increasingly difficult for retailers to identify and stop them,” added Crowther. “Online shoppers can receive hundreds of thousands of dollars of goods for essentially nothing, realizing a massive profit after resale. Combined with the growing infrastructure costs needed to support bot-driven traffic, these attacks quickly impact a retailer’s balance sheet.”