What is the Mouse Trap feature and how to capture bad bots?

How can you tell if a visitor to your site is real, or if it's a bot?

Sometimes it's difficult, if not impossible, because they're so good at disguising themselves.

But bots are robots... they're automated scripts. And because of this we can use their own limited behaviour to spot them.

ShieldPRO has a Mouse Trap feature for detecting bad bots. This feature is one of a few other bot detection signals which we discuss in more detail here.

The Mouse Trap works by leaving a bit of “cheese” in the form a link that alerts Shield to a bad bot whenever it’s been accessed.

How to capture bad bots?

To capture bad bots is a simple matter of switching on the Link Cheese option under the Bots & IPs Zone > Bot Actions component configuration and Shield will take care of the rest. When enabled Shield Security will:

  • automatically update your robots.txt file to indicate the virtual links that are not to be indexed.
  • automatically include an invisible, fake link at the footer of all pages on your site. This is the cheese to tempt the bad bots.

Options for handling bots that nibble on the link cheese

There are 4 options for dealing with any bots that access the fake link in the Mouse Trap:

  1. Log the event in the WP Activity Log
  2. Increment the offense counter for that IP
  3. Double offense counter for that IP
  4. Immediately block the IP address

Read more about this here.

Note: How your site responds is entirely up to you. To err on the side of caution we recommend option #1. But if your patience is a little thin for bad bots, choose the option #2 and immediately block them from further probing.

We definitely advocate a more lenient approach in the beginning. Test this feature on your site by assigning black marks against and IP address several times before outright blocking it. In this way you can be sure the feature works well for your site before firming up your protection and instantly blocking offenders.

Each link cheese access detected will be recorded with the WP Activity Log.

To learn more about the Mouse Trap feature, read this blog article here.

Note: ShieldPRO is required for the Mouse Trap feature. To find out what the extra ShieldPRO features are and how to purchase, please follow this link here.