The Fight Against Malicious Robots

One thing is certain: half of the traffic on the web is generated by malicious robots, not humans. To fight back against this phenomenon, French startup DataDome has developed an artificial intelligence solution to better protect websites and applications. Winner of the Startup Prize at the International Forum on Cybersecurity, it now intends to internationalize its activities, starting with the February opening of a New York office. Benjamin Fabre, cofounder of DataDome, tells us more about bad bots and how to stand up to them!
(Featured Image: DataDome’s Team / Image Credit © DataDome)
You are the winner of the Startup Prize. What does this award mean to you?

We have attended the FIC for a few years. This is the first time we were awarded. It is important for us because it confirms a basic trend, namely, that the threats on the web are generated more and more by robots.

These robots are used by both search engines, such as Google who index the websites to drive traffic and turnover, but also, unfortunately, by hackers who use them to increase their attacks.

Our belief is that the explosion of robot traffic is extremely dangerous and that websites must guard against it. What was initially an intuition has become, in a few short years, an obvious fact. Analysts such as Gartner and Forester now claim that any website or mobile application must protect themselves from this robot traffic. The OWASP – the Open Web Application Security Project – an organization that presents security best practices for users, websites and applications, places bots among the top threats on the web.

The FIC placed us number one in innovative cybersecurity startups, a real honor. This confirms that bad bug traffic is a major issue. When we see, at the same time, the latest news on leakages of personal data via sites like Yahoo, LinkedIn or Facebook, and attacks on thousands, we think that DataDome has a real role to play in solving it. The FIC is a major cybersecurity event. This is an opportunity for us to show the evolution of threats and present our solution to a wider audience.

Who are your clients?

We have a few different groups. The e-commerce sites first. We have half of the 20 largest e-commerce sites in France (Private-Sales, Carrefour, Leclerc, Rakuten, etc.). Then media, such as Le Parisien or Ouest France. The classifieds sites are also users of our solution (The Good Corner & Yellow Pages). Finally, our AI is increasingly demanded by banks and insurers.

Today we carry out 70% of our activity in France and plan to accelerate our international expansion this year. Our ambition is to double our workforce in the next 12 months. Since 2015, we have raised €3.5 million. Today, our growth is financing our development.

“Half of web traffic is generated by robots, including 30% hackers and bad bots. Hundreds of thousands of attacks are carried out daily on our customers’ sites.”

Can you tell us more about your solution?

Our website and mobile application protection solution has been developed in SaaS mode and is available on a monthly subscription basis. Once registered, our customers must install an “agent” onto their servers who will have two main missions:

    1. To block malicious robots and protect data: the artificial intelligence of the agent will analyze all incoming traffic and requests made on the site and/or the mobile application to know if these calls are generated by robots or humans. The module also analyzes whether the traffic is generated by benevolent robots (like Google) or malicious robots that will try to hack their site, to test combinations of logins/passwords or even to slow down the site with DDoS attacks by example.
  • To create better quality website traffic and mobile applications thanks to the blocking of bad robots in phase 1. By default, DataDome’s AI, without human intervention, analyzes traffic and automatically blocks all threats in real time.

All of our customers have access to a dashboard that allows them to follow real-time activity recorded on their website and mobile applications, track and manage all the protection decisions made by the AI, handle possible fraud and grant permission for partner robots to generate traffic on their website.

Are bad bots a lucrative business?

Half of web traffic is generated by robots, including 30% hackers and bad bots. Hundreds of thousands of attacks are carried out daily on our customers’ sites.

There is a lot of money to be earned. This is the new mafia! Hackers who exploit log files and passwords available on the Dark Web will then hack the sites of our customers for fraudulent purposes.

They download thousands of files with this information and use bots to try these combinations on e-commerce sites, for example. As soon as a combination works, a human will log in and see if he can use the registered credit card, retrieve coupons or divert money if there are credits available, etc. It is a very lucrative business that concerns all sites.


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