Imperva Research Labs Discovers Huge Spikes in Bots and ATO During Summer Sporting Events

From the Olympics in Tokyo to the recent Tour De France, the summer games are back on which means an uptick in users making wagers on online betting sites.

Coinciding with global sporting events, Imperva Research Labs noticed a suspicious rise in bot activity on both sporting and betting sites. In addition to bot-driven comment spamming and content scraping, Imperva also monitored a rise in account takeover (ATO) attacks — designed to break into accounts and gain access to gamblers’ digital wallets — in the weeks leading up to and during these events.

Some of the findings from their blog include:

  • As the Tour De France race was scheduled to begin, bot activity on sporting and gambling sites spiked 52%.

  • In the weeks leading up to the start of the EURO 2020 tournament, Imperva Research Labs monitored a 96% year-on-year increase in bot traffic on global sporting sites.

  • During the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, Imperva Research Labs monitored a significant spike in search engine impersonators with Google seeing an 88% increase in impersonators, and Yahoo seeing a 66% increase.

  • Most alarming was the increase in web traffic throughout Japan before and during the first week of the Olympic Games, coming from IPs known to perform account takeover attacks.

  • ATO attacks grew 43% the week prior to the start of the Olympic Games - and spiked 74% during the first week of competition.

From Imperva’s bot research and web traffic monitoring its apparent that bot threats are evolving beyond e-commerce and are quickly becoming a fraud risk for online fans that use sports betting sites. The global sporting events of this summer are a strong indicator that we’ll likely see a spike trend occur again around major sporting events in 2022, including the Winter Olympics and the World Cup.


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