What is a Bot?

What is a Bot

A bot is a computer program that independently performs tasks in an automated manner without the involvement of a user. There are different types of bots that perform different tasks. They range from social bots to chatbots to search engine bots. Bots can be useful or malicious. When bots communicate over a network, it is called a botnet. Botnets are often used to attack IT infrastructures such as DDoS attacks.

What is a Bot?

The term bot is derived from the English word for robot “robot”. It is a computer program that independently performs certain tasks in an automated manner without the involvement of a user. The tasks are very different and often simple, repetitive processes.

There are numerous different types of bots that are used for various purposes. Bots can be used for both legal and illegal activities. Typical “benign” bots include social bots, chatbots, and bots used by search engine operators (web crawlers).

“Malicious” bots include bots for illegally collecting email addresses for advertising purposes, bots for detecting software vulnerabilities, or bots for copying data without authorization. If several bots are connected via a network, this is known as a botnet or botnet network. These networks often consist of various devices such as computers, printers, routers, webcams, or other IoT devices.

READ:  What is DLP (Data Loss Prevention)?

Botnets are often used for attacks on IT infrastructures. For example, they can be used for distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

The different types of bots

There exist numerous different types of bots such as:

  • Social bots
  • Chatbots
  • Search engine bots (web crawlers)
  • Game bots
  • Email bots

Social bots are active in social media such as Facebook or Twitter and automatically publish posts, responses to queries or leave comments there. They can be used for information dissemination or targeted opinion making and influencing.

Chat bots interact with people and answer their questions, for example. A typical area of application for chat bots is customer service. There, they relieve customer service employees and categorize customer inquiries or provide assistance themselves in simple cases.

The bots of search engine operators (web crawlers) scour the Internet for new links and content. They follow the links and store found information about web pages in such a way that they can be found via search entries.

Game bots replace human players in computer games. They act as opponents or partners of a real player and can usually be adjusted in their playing strength or intelligence.

The task of e-mail bots is to collect e-mail addresses in order to use them for advertising purposes, for example.

READ:  What is TAXII (Trusted Automated eXchange of Indicator Information)?

Connecting multiple bots to form a botnet

If many bots are connected via a network and can be controlled centrally, this is known as a botnet. Botnets are usually used for illegal purposes and are made up of devices infected with malware.

Owners or users of the devices are usually unaware that the devices are remotely controlled and used for illegal purposes such as DDoS attacks. Hackers take central control with the help of command-and-control servers and master servers.