Chicago / New York (Reuters) — Seven times last month, Benjamin Carmis, a 26-year-old priest from Wheaton, Illinois, was unable to get the latest information. Sony PlayStation 5 Video Game Console From retail websites such as Walmart Inc and Facebook Marketplace.
But it wasn’t because someone beat him to buy it.
Instead, Karmis and other shoppers were defeated by so-called “scalper bot” software. This software is used by resellers to get their products online and quickly relist them with important markup on eBay and the Amazon Marketplace.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has kept millions of shoppers at home, has made such resellers bold. Its tech arbitrage is legal in most countries and brings sadness to everyday shoppers.
“There is no way I could have been ready to get it, and I failed every time,” Carmis said.
We are also targeting bots this year Pandemic era Essentials such as P & G’s Charmin toilet paper and Reckitt Benckiser’s Lysol. In the UK, bots robbed grocery delivery slots reserved for seniors.
According to consultants and cybersecurity experts, retailers are trying new tactics as pandemics have expanded bot resale into new product categories, making resale more attractive when many lose their jobs. I will.
Some stores have vowed to strengthen their cybersecurity measures. Others are expanding availability or offering products to only a small number of established customers.
A Wal-Mart spokeswoman told Reuters that “bot scripts are constantly evolving and rewriting, building, deploying, and continually updating their own bot detection tools that can successfully block most of the bots. I will. “
“This year, COVID has already had a lot of online traffic, and the release of next-generation consoles has created unprecedented traffic volumes and patterns,” he added.
Some customers said the company’s website crashed when trying to buy one of the new consoles. Wal-Mart said the site remained online despite heavy traffic.
The Scalper bot first gained attention in the concert ticket sales and limited edition sneaker market about 10 years ago, with resellers leading the online queue.
US law prohibits the issuance of scalpers under the 2016 Federal Better Online Ticket Sales Act, but retailers do not have such protection.
“This is a kind of malicious, but illegal? No,” said Edward Roberts, an application security specialist at cybersecurity firm Imperva.
Nike, the main target for resellers, has come up with creative ways to fight bots, including giving established members of the SNKRS app the opportunity to book shoes for purchase at the Nike Store.
In 2018, Nike is now offering the Red Air Jordan 1 sneaker with the word “NOT FOR RE SALE” engraved on the sole. They are currently sold for nearly $ 1,000 on the online resale market StockX.
“This is a big issue, but at the same time, I think retailers are looking for ways to fight bots by strengthening firewalls and getting consumers more involved in in-store raffles,” Nike said. Apparel buyer Jai Somaville said. ..
There’s no way I could have been ready to get it, and I failed every time.
At Wal-Mart, most of the “significantly heavy” traffic on the new video game console came from bots, a spokeswoman for the company said. On November 25, the world’s largest retailer blocked more than 20 million bot attempts within the first 30 minutes of the day’s PS5 sales event, among other precautions.
The company also conducts post-sales audits to cancel orders from bots and make those products available to the general public.
TargetCorp and GameStopCorp also declined to provide details, stating that their website has high-tech bot protection software.
However, the use of such bots is expanding across regions and product categories, so those coders are one step ahead of corporate security personnel.
Most scalper bots reload their web pages every few milliseconds to give them an edge when adding products to their shopping cart. Some people try to disguise themselves as hundreds of different customers from different locations.
Thomas Platt, head of e-commerce for bot security firm Netacea, said resellers could temporarily suspend retailers’ websites and interfere with security programs to allow scalper bots to slip through gaps. It states that there is.
This has a lot of money and the PS5 is a great example.
– Netacea, Head of E-Commerce, Thomas Platt
Resale bots can be purchased on the online marketplace or through rings tuned on social media sites for up to $ 5,000 each. Skullper bots are becoming more and more mainstream and can be easily found by entering phrases such as “Nike bot” and “PS5 bot” into online search engines. People can buy limited-time access to them for only $ 10 to $ 20.
“This has a lot of money and the PS5 is a great example,” Pratt said. Netacea, for example, identified one console resale ring that earned about $ 1 to $ 1.5 million in the last two weeks of November.
UK-based CrepChiefNotify is a subscription service that teaches members how to use bots and warns of the availability of popular products, claiming that customers have purchased about 6,000 new PS5s and Xboxes.
The company said it has doubled its membership to 4,000 since the start of the pandemic, where many of its members lost their jobs. When the client resold it, it generated an average profit of around £ 400 ($ 534.40) per game console.
“These are businesses … people pay mortgages by doing this,” said Roberts of Imperva. “They have goals and they are financially motivated, so they never disappear.”
(Report by Richa Naidu in Chicago and Melissa Fares in New York, edited by Kenneth Li, Vanessa O’Connell, Gerry Doyle)
© Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020
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