51% of Internet Traffic Is From Bots, Study Says

Mar 16, 2012 1:30 PM PST

NEW YORK — About half of all web traffic stems from bots, according to research by security firm Incapsula.

Incapsula determined that humans only represent about 49 percent of traffic, while the remaining   is derived from automated sources.

Of that bot-related traffic, 20 percent comes from search engine indexers and the like; Incapsula says 31 percent of a site's traffic is actually harmful in one way or another.

"Few people realize how much of their traffic is non-human, and that much of it is potentially harmful," Incapsula cofounder Marc Gaffan  told ZDNet. "Google [Analytics] simply doesn't show you 51 percent of your site's traffic including some seriously shady non-human visitors including hackers, scrapers, spammers and spies."

Gaffan notes that conventional analytics services aren't entirely accurate in this regard.

The study was performed with data from 1,000 sites with an average of 50,000 to 100,000 monthly visitors.

From that sample, 5 percent of traffic was found to be hacking tools, such as those used in DDoS attacks or "scouters" that scan websites for vulnerabilities.

Another 5 percent  came from "scrapers," which extract data and content such as prices, stocks and email addresses.

Two percent came from comment spammers and 19 percent stemmed from "other spies of sorts," including SEO analyzers.

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