Mobile Bot Traffic Reportedly Grew 30% In 2013

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It’s no secret that mobile — and specifically Android — is becoming a major vector for malware. The result of this, according to a new report from CAPTCHA-based advertising firm Solve Media, is that suspicious traffic from mobile devices grew 30 percent in 2013 and currently accounts for about 25 percent of all U.S. mobile traffic.

Overall, suspicious web traffic across Solve’s network increased about 40 percent over the course of 2013 and now accounts for about 61 percent of all traffic. Just because the traffic is suspicious doesn’t mean it has to be a bot, though. Solve tells me it can confirm that about 72 percent of the suspicious traffic is definitely from bots.

That number is in line with what we heard from security CDN service Incapsula late last year.

In Q4, the highest level of bot traffic came from Southeast Asia, China and Eastern Europe, with hotbeds in Singapore, Taiwan, Poland, Lithuania and Romania.

Solve’s data is based on looking at over 700 million CAPTCHA verifications on about 8,400 sites.

Solve Media’s CEO Ari Jacoby believes that the spike in bot traffic late in the year is in large part due to the bigger ad budgets that are being spent around the holidays. “With US advertising budgets expected to top $182B by 2015, brands and publishers must both commit to adopting fraud prevention measures now,” Jacoby said in a statement today. “Aggressive botnet operators are not only stealing marketers’ hard fought budgets, they’re also creating false results on campaign performance.”

Given that Solve protects against this kind of bot traffic, it’s always worth taking the actual numbers with a grain of salt and the sites that use its system may be more prone to being attacked than a regular website, which may skew its data, too. Overall, though, the numbers in this report seem to track what we’ve heard from other companies.