It's still hard to imagine that bots make up a good chunk of Internet users, but continual evidence points to this painful truth. Many users who visit your website, post on community forums, or follow you on social media, aren't likely human at all and just nefarious automated bots who try to spread spam.
This probably sounds like a chilling sci-fi movie come to life. It may become more of a reality as artificial intelligence becomes smarter, including the Internet of Things controlling everything. With the above in mind, we have to acknowledge bots are ubiquitous on the web. Still, it's important to properly understand what they do.
Recent reports have bad bots diminishing somewhat on the web. You also have some stats showing humans slightly increasing their presence over bots in general. Let's take a closer look at the Internet Of Bots for more detailed definitions.
Bots and Their Cyber Criminal Masters
In the Internet age, the word "bot" stemmed from "robot", despite essentially being the cyber version of the nefarious robots from sci-fi lore. Norton describes bots as being worms and Trojans, though doing the bidding of their cyber criminal masters.
You can describe these cyber criminals almost as mad scientists if you want while mostly residing in other countries where they're impossible to find. They direct their bots to do everything from sending spam all the way to the worst scenario: DDoS attacks (Denial of Service).
In the latter case, it can shut down your server for hours or days until finding a way to get everything stable again.
So how do these bots manage to spread so easily? Bots never work alone and frequently stay silent for a while until doing their dirty work.
How Bots Infiltrate Computers
Bots scour the net looking for vulnerable computers that don't have protection. They typically enter a computer when someone inadvertently downloads a Trojan. Then the bot stays eerily silent until their creator directs it to take action.
Many people don't even realize they have a bot infection until they get notice from their ISP about their computer spamming other users. To show how malicious bots are, they even clean up your computer to look more unnoticeable and prevent other bots from taking their place.
What is a Botnet?
As mentioned above, bots never work alone and operate through what's called a Botnet. It's a network of hundreds or thousands of infected computers all controlled by the earlier-mentioned cyber criminals. Frequently described as a zombie army, criminals use a command post to direct their bots from each infected computer worldwide to infect even more computers.
It's a major international problem that's very challenging to bring down. Yet, outside of these concerns, bots have their usefulness in the cyber universe.
The Difference Between Good Bots and Bad Bots
Many good bots exist out there, and they're designed to scan websites for SERP rankings, scan for competitive pricing, censor content in chat rooms, or locate plagiarized web content.
Good bots work silently in the background as much as the bad bots do. While good bots don't always try to resemble humans, bad bots continue to mimic human behavior to fool people. Impersonator bots and zombie bots are the worst of these in recent years.
Finding a Solution to Online Bots
Perhaps we'll finally reach a threshold where humans far outweigh online bots. In the meantime, you need a better network abuse solution so you can ignore the bots rather than waste resources on investigations.
When the internet community swarms your abuse team with emails, your workers needs a way to find the right priority cases. We can help you achieve this at Abusix with our unique platform.