What are Bots?
The word bot is a term resulting from shortening the word robot, and is nothing more than a computer program that performs repetitive and automated tasks, based on predefined conditional.
The main objective of a bot is to replicate human behavior and actions done by people, but much faster and automated.
There are good bots, such as those that search and catalog web pages, recommendation bots; others, on the contrary, are bad, such as those that generate web attacks or those that collect emails for spamming, among others.
1. How do bots work?
A bot consist of a series of algorithms that allow them to work on tasks faster than the human mind, they achieve this thanks to the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning (they interpret and process the natural language of humans, while at the same time learning to be more efficient).
In other words, a bot analyzes a specific situation and tries to solve it based on its algorithms. There are different types of bots whose performance and capabilities are adapted to the tasks for which they are intended.
2. Good bots
There are many kinds of bots, both bad and good, but let’s start by summarizing some of the most common good bots:
– Spider or crawler bots. These are the ones that search engines create to offer the best results in the keywords searched by their users. They crawl the Web, examine the content of the web pages and catalog the results (after processing the content available on the websites).
– Shopping bots. They are used to collect information on the costs of products on the Internet, as well as to analyze user navigation on a website and adapt offers to each customer.
– knowbots. These are bots designed to visit websites periodically and gather information based on specific criteria.
– Conversational bots. These are bots that hold conversations similar to a person, but they will return predefined answers based on specific phrases or patterns.
– Mass mailing bots. These are used to send the same email to multiple people (hundreds or thousands of people) and send them information of interest. To send email marketing campaigns to users, you should have their permission or it could be considered as spam.
– Tracking bots. They are very common and are used to constantly monitor the status of a system or web page. Generally, their real-time information helps to locate service interruptions and detect malfunctions.
3. Bad bots
In this case we are going to talk about some of the types of bots created with bad intentions, although some may have a legitimate use, since their main use is for bad actions, they have been classified as “bad bots”:
– Attack bots. These are botnets that continuously attack servers using multiple computers. The most common types of attacks are the so-called service denial (DDoS).
– Bots for buying tickets. Designed to buy tickets for popular events on a massive scale and resell them at much higher prices.
– Download bots. They are used to download applications automatically. Their main scenario is the manipulation of download statistics and generating fake downloads that provide more popularity to a particular application in the app stores.
– Web extractor bots. They are designed to read the content of websites and save a local copy so that it can be reused. But sometimes, they don’t copy the entire content and focus on collecting specific data from the website.
Extractors are either lawful if the website administrator gives permission for their use or they can be used maliciously to obtain information without the website owner’s permission.
– Brute force bots. These are bots that repeatedly try to gain access to a private area by force, i.e., they try to enter data continuously until they find the correct access information.
– Social bots. These bots are present in social media platforms and their main use is to generate opinions, create messages without human attention, follow other users… in short, pretend to be a “normal” profile managed by a real person.
– Spam bots These are bots designed to capture email addresses on the Internet and then send mass mailings without permission to all of them (spamming). Generally these emails are intended to collect personal information and/or scam people.
– Vulnerability bots. These ones are created to detect and in many cases take advantages of errors found on websites or applications. So these bots will work to detect these errors.