Bot is an abbreviation for Web Robot (also known as Internet Bots or WWW Robots). A bot is a software application that automates activities that a human might otherwise do. Usually, bots will be faster and/or operating at a larger scale than would be practical otherwise.
The usage of Bots has become very popular in the last few years as many organizations found it as an easy method to supply customers with relevant information. It even allowed them to do many activities that once needed a “human touch” immediately and by themselves. Today you can pay your bills, book a vacation and even solve technical issues all by the usage of Web Bots.
Another “upsell” for organizations is the fact that unlike people, bots are cheap and demand no intervention from the organization besides its initial setup and the occasional update now and then.
However, like in most things, where there is good, there is usually bad. Malicious organizations have seen the simplicity in using Bots and thought, “why not use this technology for evil?” As the basis behind Bots is that they can automate functions quickly and easily (much more than people) they can be used in cyberattacks. DDoS attacks, for example, use multiple systems to bombard the server with requests – eventually bringing it down and denying service. Using Bots can allow a hacker to attack various targets and with minimum resources.
Today’s bots are so sophisticated that they can easily bypass many traditional protection services.
As mentioned, there are many kinds of bots. Many of them (for example, chatbots) can be useful business tools. However, many are used by attackers for malicious purposes. We will cover different kinds of bots in the next section.