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August 11, 2023

IBM partners with Cloudflare to take on botnets

Malicious botnets are growing in complexity and becoming harder to detect using traditional, manual methods.

By Ryan Morrison

IBM is working with the network security company Cloudflare to tackle the growing problem of botnets targeting enterprise systems. According to a statement issued by Big Blue, the partnership will include the deployment of new machine learning technology to identify a malicious botnet inside the system, as well as enhanced behavioural analysis of internet traffic types.

Cloudflare monitors internet traffic and uses the data to train machine learning models to spot malicious bot activity (Photo: Sundry Photography / Shutterstock)
Cloudflare monitors internet traffic and uses the data to train machine learning models to spot malicious bot activity (Photo: Sundry Photography / Shutterstock)

Bad bots make up about a third of all internet traffic, a percentage that rises with every passing year, according to a 2023 Imperva report. These malicious networks are being used to attack API’s and other internet-facing workloads, increasingly affecting large enterprises and putting networks, services and reputations at risk.

The attacks from these automated tools are becoming more sophisticated, making manual mitigation efforts less effective. IBM says its new partnership with Cloudflare will allow it to offer dynamic and adaptive solutions for enterprise cloud users.

Cloudflare’s Bot Management tool uses machine learning to identify malicious network activity. It has been trained on hundreds of billions of requests per day going through Cloudflare’s infrastructure. It filters out content scraping and site crawling, as well as inventory hoarding and credit card stuffing before the data can be taken.

IBM Cloud has had a partnership with Cloudflare since 2018, working on application security and performance. This allowed enterprise users to configure web and internet applications to be protected against DDoS attacks and data theft. The extended partnership adds bot management solutions to the toolset.

Cloudflare bot detection

Cloudflare is one of the most interconnected networks on the web, capable of harnessing its scale to derive insights from a wide range of traffic, including bad bots, good ones, and human activity. It uses that to train AI models to better track, manage and limit the scope of the worst bots on the internet.

“Cloudflare and IBM Cloud Internet Services have been helping power the vast increase of internet-facing business applications, and we’re seeing more and more bot activity across the landscape,”  said Matt Harrell, Cloudflare’s global head of channels and alliances. “Malicious bots are part of this equation, posing significant risks and causing inefficiencies in business, from fraudulent transactions to fake attempts to make purchases.”

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Harrell said the malicious activities can lead to legitimate customers being prevented from making a purchase, which “affects a business’ bottom line” and leads to larger risks of data loss and a concomitant hit to the company’s reputation.

“As the threat landscape continues to grow, it’s more important than ever to evolve our offerings to better support our clients in their cyber resiliency journey,” said Nataraj Nagaratnam, Fellow, CTO, Cloud Security at IBM. “Both IBM and Cloudflare continue to have a mission of delivering solutions that will address costly security threats, without hindering Internet speed or business innovation. We aim to provide our clients a single integrated solution that offers both industry-leading protection and accelerated performance.”  

Read more: Cloudflare offers free zero-trust security tools to non-profits

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