We are so used to the internet being integrated into our lives, it is hard for us to understand all the terminology flying around without months worth of lessons on the jargon.
One of the many things that we often do not understand is what exactly a bot is, we can wager good guesses, and who knows, maybe your guess is right.
However, many do not understand what bots are, and why they even exist.
To be honest, the internet needs them, we need them for our internet experience to work better. Humans are fallible, faulted, and things can go wrong.
That is not to say bots are infallible or perfect, but they are more likely to do things as required consistently, and they don’t need to take breaks.
Let’s define what exactly a bot is.
Bot is simply the shortened version of the word ‘robot’, it is a software program which will perform automated and repeated pre-determined tasks.
These bots will usually imitate or replace human behaviors. As they are automated, they will also operate much faster than we can.
Thus carrying out useful functions, like basic customer service, or indexing a search engine with greater speed and efficiency.
Sadly, bots can also appear as malware too, which is used to gain total and utter control over someone’s computer.
There is a good and bad side to everything.
Computer Bots V Internet Bots
Computer bots and internet bots are basically just digital tools, which like a screwdriver or a chainsaw, can be used for good or bad, depending on the intention of those who program it.
Good bots carry out tasks to help websites and computers work more efficiently, thus helping human programmers and users alike.
Bad bots are malware bots which can be used to hack, spam, spy, and compromise websites or computers.
A large chunk (maybe even half) of all internet traffic today is actually bots doing their tasks.
Bots often carry out customer service, human conversation, help companies to search for content, and assist in SEO.
It might sound like bots are taking our jobs, but you would not want to do what a bot does.
These tasks are very simple, and bots simply perform it faster. Meaning that we can do our jobs at greater speed because the bots get it done so fast
What Are The Dangers Of Bots?
Malware bots are the dangerous kind, the ones we do not like. These bots can be programs to hack into user accounts, scan the internet for data, send spam, and so on.
In order to do so, they disguise the source of this online attack, and these bots can be distributed in networks, or a botnet.
A botnet is a series of internet devices that are connected. Each one may run one or more bots, and often this happens without the knowledge of the user.
As each device will have its own IP address, this traffic comes from a cacophony of IP addresses, which makes it hard to block the source of malware bot activity.
These malware bots typically harm your PC in the form of downloads. This can come from social media, email messages or websites that want you to click on a link.
Bots can also appear as warning signs saying that your PC has a virus, or that you will get a virus if you do not click on a specific link.
When you click on the link, BAM, you have a virus.
However, do not fear bots just because of malware bots, there are many, many more types of bots out there that are not out to harm your computer or your data.
How Do Bots Work?
Traditionally, bots will work over a network. Those that can communicate among one another use internet-based services to do so.
More than half of our online traffic is these bots, even when they are talking with one another.
Bots are a collection of algorithms that aid people in specific tasks, able to do anything from mimic human behaviors to converse with actual humans, to collating information from websites.
There are many types of bots, not only one type, there are many all designed to do a mirage of tasks.
Chatbots, for example, operate in many ways. One that is defined by a rule-based algorithm will reply using pre-defined prompts for you to select.
Intellectually independent chatbots use machine learning to learn from conversations with humans, they will look out for known keywords, and communicate through machine learning.
AI chatbots are a mixture of the two above types of chatbots. They can also use pattern matching, language processing, and language generation as well.
Those who use bots for their online sites, will also be able to use management software programs for their bots, this includes software that protects their good bots against bad bots.
Other Types Of Bots
So far we have talked about chatbots, malware bots, and the like. Before you leave you to enjoy bots, let’s look at other types of bots.
- Chatbots: As we previously mentioned, these bots are able to simulate conversation with actual human beings.
- Social bots: These bots operate on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Shopbots: These bots shop online on your behalf to find the best prices for what you are looking for.
- Knowbots: Bots like these collect knowledge for you automatically by using sites to retrieve information.
- Spiders/ Crawlers: These bots are used to access sites and gather content for search engine indexes.
- Web Scrapers: Similar to Crawlers but they harvest data.
- Monitoring bots: Used to monitor the health of a PC or website.
- Transactional bots: Used to complete transactions for you.
Bots are not as ominous as we think. They actually help us in everyday life. You may have used a bot today!
They are very useful in business, socializing, website management and design, and many other things too.
Let’s just keep those nasty bad bots at bay!