News Report Technology
December 20, 2023

OpenAI’s GPTBot is a Major Cyberthreat for Online Retailers During Holiday Sales: Report

In Brief

GPTBot traffic on e-commerce platforms surged to 90 percent during recent Black Friday sales, posing a significant security threat.

OpenAI's GPTBot is a Major Cyberthreat for Online Retailers During Holiday Sales: Report

As the Christmas holiday season approaches, online retailers are facing a new challenge — GPTBot traffic on e-commerce platforms has surged to 90 percent during recent Black Friday sales, posing a significant security threat to both online shops and consumers.

According to the Czech Republic Security provider Qrator Labs, e-commerce platforms are vulnerable to cyber threats during the holiday sales period.

To back up its claim, Qrator Labs recently reported blocking 204 million malicious attacks on retail between November 11th and 30th, identifying GPTBot as one of the primary instigators.

But what exactly is GPTBot? Simply put, it is a website crawling tool released by OpenAI in August 2023. Its primary purpose is to crawl websites and gather content to train its proprietary large language models (LLMs), such as GPT-4 and GPT-5.

While OpenAI has provided recommendations to restrict GPTBot access, the report highlights that many market players have yet to update their configurations, leaving them susceptible to potential security breaches.

Online shops specializing in home goods, construction materials, and repair items were the primary targets of these cyberattacks. Qrator Labs identified that about 75 percent of the attacks were directed at backend APIs and mobile apps, with only a quarter targeting website.

The malicious bots were particularly focused on disrupting account authorization on online platforms and tampering with loyalty services, such as bonus points and special discounts.

As the holiday season progresses, Qrator Labs warns that similar attack patterns may reoccur during Christmas sales. The rise in malicious traffic during holiday periods is a well-established trend, supported by various researches.

Additionally, a term coined as “Grinch bots” has surfaced, referring to bots that emerge during holiday periods to track trending retail items and purchase online inventory in bulk, causing frustration among consumers.

Proactive Measures are Need of the Hour

The increasing dominance of GPTBot raises concerns not only for online retailers but also for consumers who may experience disruptions in their shopping experiences.

The need for heightened security measures and prompt updates to configurations becomes imperative as the holiday shopping frenzy continues, and online platforms brace themselves for potential cyber threats.

In light of these escalating threats, online retailers are urged to prioritize the implementation of robust security measures. OpenAI’s recommendations for restricting GPTBot access should be promptly adopted, and configurations must be updated to ensure a resilient defense against potential cyberattacks.

Collaboration between security providers and e-commerce platforms is essential to stay ahead of evolving threats. Additionally, consumers are advised to remain vigilant, employ strong authentication measures, and report any suspicious activities to the respective online retailers.

As the holiday shopping season continues, a proactive and collaborative approach will be crucial in safeguarding the integrity of online transactions and maintaining a secure digital shopping environment.

Disclaimer

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About The Author

Kumar is an experienced Tech Journalist with a specialization in the dynamic intersections of AI/ML, marketing technology, and emerging fields such as crypto, blockchain, and NFTs. With over 3 years of experience in the industry, Kumar has established a proven track record in crafting compelling narratives, conducting insightful interviews, and delivering comprehensive insights. Kumar's expertise lies in producing high-impact content, including articles, reports, and research publications for prominent industry platforms. With a unique skill set that combines technical knowledge and storytelling, Kumar excels at communicating complex technological concepts to diverse audiences in a clear and engaging manner.

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Kumar Gandharv
Kumar Gandharv

Kumar is an experienced Tech Journalist with a specialization in the dynamic intersections of AI/ML, marketing technology, and emerging fields such as crypto, blockchain, and NFTs. With over 3 years of experience in the industry, Kumar has established a proven track record in crafting compelling narratives, conducting insightful interviews, and delivering comprehensive insights. Kumar's expertise lies in producing high-impact content, including articles, reports, and research publications for prominent industry platforms. With a unique skill set that combines technical knowledge and storytelling, Kumar excels at communicating complex technological concepts to diverse audiences in a clear and engaging manner.

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