An internet bot is a software application. This software application can either be your worst nightmare or the best thing you ever come across. It runs automated tasks over the internet. While is can be very helpful, it can also turn rogue and give you a lot of problems.
It is necessary to learn how to manoeuvre your way around bad bots even as you benefit from the good ones.
If you have not heard about bots, it’s about time you perked up and listened. Bots are supposed to make things easier for us on the internet. Those in the know will tell you that these little web robots are expected to replace apps. They have been around for quite a while but are only just beginning to make their presence felt.
Please read on and see what you can pick about bots.
What exactly does a bot do?
A bot takes your orders and delivers. Okay. In all seriousness, a bot performs automated tasks like:
- Setting alarms
- Giving you weather updates
- Searching for information online…at your suggestion, naturally
- Locating restaurants and cafes
- Shopping…for clothes, furniture, etc.
- Order a pizza or a meal
- Save money
It is not all summer and sunshine with bots though. You may not know this but there have been some nightmarish bots that have practically turned people’s lives upside down. As earlier mentioned, bots can mess you up. There was a well-known bot known as Tay. Tay was a was a teenage chatbot thatwas designed by Microsoft. Microsft must have been mortified when Tay decided to tweet racist and decidedly offensive messages. That cannot have been easy for such a giant corporation to live down.
It is therefore necessary to have measures to control and block bad bot traffic. As you have already realized thus far, bots are scattered throughout technology. There are those like Microsoft’s Tay that come with a virus meant for search engine spiders. These ones spread out all over the internet in search of fresh webpages to add. They are in the form of chatbots with which you can have a tete a tete for the completion of a task. When you talk to these bots, it feels more like speaking to another human than typing information you need on a search engine.
Are bots intelligent?
Not extremely. They have shown signs that they may not be as smart as one would hope. It is important to note that they can and often do fail to understand commands. This can be quite frustrating. However, they are bound to get better as the developers continue upgrading them. So, maybe you should not trust them too much yet.
Where are bots located?
Bots are found in most of the messaging apps available:
- Facebook Messenger
So, should we expect a total eclipse of apps?
There are developers who believe that people have had enough of apps and will be glad to see something different. They are convinced that people are more inclined towards bots and the time for apps is up.
Maybe, but they haven’t talked to everybody. Apps will be around for a while yet. What is more likely to happen is that they will develop smarter bots for our homes, phones and cars. These are bound to make our lives even easier. It will definitely work better for humanity if they can improve the bots’ comprehension skills.
Bots can and have been used for malicious purposes. They have been well coordinated for malicious attacks on networked computers. Bots can be used to:
- Deny service
- Click fraud
- Spam large content online
- Add advertising links
An overwhelming 94.2% of websites have experienced at least one bot attack.
Types of malicious bots and botnets
There are various types of bots you should be aware of:
- Spambots: These ones gather email addresses from contacts or guestbook pages.
- Downloader programs: We are often warned to be careful what we download onto our gadgets. It turns out there is a good reason for the warning. Downloader programs suck bandwidth when they download whole websites.
- Website scrapers: They yank content off websites and then reapply the same without the owners’ permission on automatically generated doorway pages.
- Viruses: They infect your computer via a program or app, and do bad things, such as damaging your files.
- Worms: Unlike viruses, worms don’t attach themselves to a program. Instead, they’re likely to slow down your computer network.
- DDoS attacks: Distributed Denial of Service attacks flood your network with traffic from various sources, in such a way that it’s becoming inoperable/out of service.
- Botnets: Botnets consist of multiple infected computers (zombie computers) in a network, controlled without the owners’ consent for doing malicious things, such as sending spam messages or launching DDoS attacks.
What can bad bots do in real life?
In real life example, bad bots can be used to do the following:
- Book concert seats: Bots have been used to buy the good seats at concerts or big games by brokers, who then resell them to hapless fans at extortionist prices. They are also obtained fraudulently by ticket brokers to get the best seats for themselves, therefore cheating the public out of a chance to obtain the seats regularly.
- Get resources in online games: They are also used dishonestly in online role-playing games to obtain resources that take quite a bit of time and effort to get. This is a major concern for a good number of in-line game economies.
- Inflate YouTube views: Bots are used to fake YouTube video views so they appear like they have had more hits.
- Drum up website traffic: They are used to drum up traffic counts analytics in order to get funds from advertisers.
- Auto-post to online forums: They can be used on online forums to automatically post inconsequential or malicious posts to annoy users or damage someone’s reputation.
- Give fake rating on content items: They can be used to fake the ratings on some news items by media houses.
Like any development that is geared towards making life easier for humankind, bots have been corrupted for malicious purposes, especially for selfish gain. They can also be used to defraud, say, advertisers and to make people seem more popular than they are in reality. It is therefore necessary to be able to have complete control of your websites to avoid been plagued by bad internet bots.