By one study's measure, slightly more than half of all the Internet's traffic comes from computers not being used by fleshy humans that might actually purchase products.
That's according to study released today by Incapsula, an Internet security firm, begging the question: What exactly does Internet traffic from a "non-human" look like? Incapsula is here to explain: "hackers, spambots, scrapers and spies of sorts collecting proprietary business information and customer data from unsuspecting websites." "Hackers" (5 percent) refers to hacking software that visits site to swipe credit-card information or crash sites (think of the ubiquitous DDoS attacks). "Scrapers" (another 5 percent) refer to bots that copy content from other sites and post it on their own, to get search-engine traffic. Altogether, the robotic ne'er-do-wells cited above constitutes 31 percent of all web traffic. The other 20 percent is the search engines themselves, the Googles and Bings of the Interwebbed world, whose servers work 'round-the-clock to index the Internet for our browsing pleasure.
And sorry to scare you up there, advertisers. "The company says that typically, only 49 percent of a web site’s visitors are actual humans and that the non-human traffic is mostly invisible because it is not shown by analytics software," reports ZDNet. Traffic numbers apparently are only slightly inflated by non-human hits. The comment sections, however, may be more affected: 2 percent of all Internet traffic is from comment spammers. Which is actually sort of gratifying for anyone who's had to deal with angry commenters: dismissing them as just cranky robots isn't the worst coping strategy.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.