Bots or scalping bots use automated methods to secure tickets for events and goods in bulk by completing the checkout process in a fraction of the average time taken by a legitimate user.
Scalpers use automated software to reserve the front in a queue to purchase thousands of tickets when they go on sale. Along with specialised scalping software, scalpers also use proxies to have access to many IP addresses and to avoid detection. Scalping is commonly used in the ticket industry as the scalpers will use them to fetch more money later when they are no longer available for sale on the official platform.
A proxy service provider gives internet users access to the internet through a server specially formulated to change IP addresses and authenticate users on wi-fi networks. A proxy server saves data on behalf of the user and acts as a middleman. There are several advantages of using a proxy server, namely:
- Privacy– allowing a user to surf the internet anonymously means other people or internet users cannot know the pages that the user has visited.
- Speed– a proxy server will store a website in its database, giving users faster access through a centralized cached page. This storage process also allows a user to save on bandwidth by directly reducing the need to go into the web page.
- Monitoring activity – Companies use them to monitor employee internet activity by showing which websites were viewed and how long they spent on these websites. They can also use them to block unwanted pages.
The one thing that a proxy server can’t do is encrypt data as you surf the internet. The danger is that your information can be easily accessed by hackers, the government, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and anyone with the right equipment to do so.
Some users will then add a virtual private network (VPN) as it encrypts data and hides IP addresses by privatizing all data and information searched on the internet. Although the use of both a proxy and a VPN could take some time to configure.
Botting with Proxies
Using a proxy is legal for purchases, although using a bot in some countries is not. The use of bots and scalpers makes the online buying process very difficult, especially for on-demand products. The bot can buy many tickets online through several accounts that each use a unique IP address. For purchasing tickets, scalping bots use a ticket proxy that is not easily detected or blocked. Through ticket scalping, events are sold out in seconds.
For products and placing orders, scalpers deploy bots in online stores that monitor any supplies and inventory changes. Then automatically, an order is placed and check out is done in seconds when the product becomes available. For example, a bot can be scanning thousands of websites per second to check if the PS5 is in stock. The moment the PS5 is in stock, the bot purchases and checks out faster than a person could.
How Covid-19 Affected the Use of Bots
The pandemic forced shopping and most businesses to move to remote and online systems. Most companies that had online systems setup experienced an increase in sales. Botting and scalping is a system that has been known for hoarding products that are in demand from consumers to make a profit. Hence bots were being used during the pandemic to hoard products that were necessary for consumers.
Bots and scalpers have made purchases of consoles extremely difficult for consumers through what is known as console scalping. Following the Playstation 5 (PS5) release battling against the Xbox Series X and S in November 2020, demand for these products has been extremely high, with the consoles being in short supply in no time.
PS5, through the use of a tie ratio, established that a healthy ratio for new consoles is one game to one machine or console. The tie ratio is very important because PS5 consoles sell at a loss while games are profitable. Currently, Sony is experiencing higher sales in devices than in games with a ratio of three machines to one game, and this has made it evident that scalpers are hoarding the consoles.
Although the high purchases worked to their advantage in the year 2020, they managed to make over $82 million. The biggest worry has been that their actual customers were not part of purchasing the consoles at a reasonable price. Will this keep the customers loyal to the brand?
Buying a ticket or merchandise through a proxy is legal but using a bot is illegal in some countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. The biggest problem associated with scalping is that products run out before actual consumers get to them.
This means hoarders have already had access to the goods and can sell them at a higher price than they would typically cost and this can make the actual users of the product lose interest because they have to buy at a higher price to access and experience it.