Good Bots vs. Bad Bots: How to Tell the Difference

Good-Bots-vs.-Bad-Bots-compressor.jpg Navigating the web these days can make a person feel like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz .

Thereas so much to be seen here that — until somewhat lately — was somewhat unheard of. And we donat know whatas good or bad. Itas as if weare constantly arriving across a new cast of characters and are forced to ask, aAre you a good witch, or a bad witch? a

Replace the word “witch” with “bot, ” and you might be summing up the modern digital scenery. There’s a lot of talking here AI, but it can be confusing. Is it helpful, or harmful? Is it going to induce us better at our undertakings, or take them away from us? And these bots of which we’re constantly speaking — which are good, and which are bad?

As it turns out, there are ways of distinguishing them. It requires a bit of a discerning eye, but you surely don’t need to be an expert — you just need the right information. So, without further ado, allow us to present our tips for distinguishing good bots from bad bots.

Good Bots vs. Bad Bots

The Good Bots

Copyright Bots

These bots search the web for content thatas potentially been plagiarized. Think: Illegal uploads, copying someone elseas work without proper attribution, or other improper use of proprietary content. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, these bots are commonly used within the realm of social media, especially where original content creation is a major part of the platformas employ. One prime example is YouTubeas Content ID, which is assigned to copyright owners on the network.

Data Bots

According to eZanga, data bots are those that provide up-to-the-minute informed on things like news, weather, and currency rates. With that criteria, tools like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Siri could be classified as data bots — especially since eZanga also calls these amediaa bots. However, one technology developer, Botler, categorizes one of its products as a data bot — aa new way to quickly store and access info that is important.a Its primary employ, it appears, is for the academic sector, as it allows course information to be easily shared between students and faculty.

Source: botler

Spider Bots

Think about what a spider does — it crawls. Search engines do the same thing, by crawling the webas content to make query results, and using spider bots to do so. Google, for example, has its very own Googlebot, which uses the constantly-evolving Google algorithm to determine which sites to crawl.

These days, spider bots arenat limited to search engines. The Siemens Robotics Lab, for example, has developed spider-shaped robots that blend the ability to autonomously perform physical chores with information-crawling capabilities. How does that work, precisely? Siemens Research Scientist Hasan Sinan Bank explains 😛 TAGEND

The robots use onboard cameras as well as a laser scanner to interpret their immediate environment. Knowing the scope of its 3D-printer arm, each robot autonomously is currently working which part of an region a regardless of whether the area is flat or curved a it can encompas, while other robots use the same technique to cover adjacent areas.a

Trader Bots

These bots might be my favorite. Theyare the ones that crawl the web to help you find the best bargains on something you might be looking to buy online. eZanga notes that these bots are used by consumers and retailers alike — for the latter, the biggest advantage is their ability to ahelp inch out the challenger by posting a better price .a

As for the consumer, these bots come to mind with tools like Honey: A browser extension that automatically presents coupons and discount codes when youare about to initiate a siteas checkout process. Hereas how it works on Amazon, for example 😛 TAGEND Source: botler

The Bad Bots

Click Bots

Each year, Incapsula publishes a Bot Traffic Report, which measures and investigates the website traffic generated by bots. And in 2016, bad bots accounted for 28.9% of that traffic — outnumbering the very best bots by 6 %.

One of those bad bots is often found to be the click bot — the kind that fraudulently click on ads, causing data reported to advertisers to be skewed. But not only does that result in misinformation for marketers, but if youare using pay-per-click( PPC) campaigns, those clicks add up to wasted dollars on fake visits that didnat even come from humans, let alone your audience.

Download Bots

Similar to click bots, download bots also fraudulently game engagement data, but for download counts, instead of website visits. If it voices familiar, it might be because of a 2012 incident involving Apple, in which many iPhone app developers were utilizing athird-party advertising services insuring top rankings ,a according to AdWeek .

Imposter Bots

Itas easy to confuse imposter bots with click bots, since the former work by amasking themselves as legitimate visitors, a according to the Incapsula report. But the intent of imposter bots is much more malicious than generating a false clickcount. Instead, these objectives is to bypass online safety measure. And of the aforementioned traffic are produced in 2016 by bad bots, imposter bots accounted for over 84% of it. Theyare often the culprit behind distributed denial of service( DDoS) attacks — in fact, you might recall a day in October 2016 when it seemed like half of the internet, including Twitter, stopped working. That was a DDoS attack, and an imposter bot dubbed Mirai was responsible for it.

Source: Incapsula

Scraper Bots

Web scrapers achieve the opposite impact as copyright bots. Rather than protecting proprietary content, scraper bots are designed to steal and repurpose it elsewhere, often unbeknownst to its owner.

Source: Distil

Spam Bots

You would think that spam bots( often spelled aspambota) have been around long enough that they would have become a thing of the past, like VCRs and the beset. But it seems that theyare just getting smarter, and seeing new ways to permeate our lives.

These are the bots that basically distribute aspammya content like unwarranted emails, or senseless comments on articles and blog posts. More lately, youave probably come across them on social media — one 2015 study found that nearly 8% of Instagram accounts, for example, are actually spambots.

Itas worth noting that in 2014, Instagram made efforts to purging the network of millions of spam accounts — but people were less than thrilled about it. Even if they weren’t “real, ” it seems that many Instagram users were upset to see their followings drastically shrink.

Source: The Verge

Spy Bots

Have you ever received an email from a complete stranger, and wondered how such person or persons got your contact information? Perhaps the sender got it from person you know, or is just particularly good at research.

But it also might be the work of a spy bot, which is the kind that mines data about someones( or industries) and often sells it. Thereas a reason, after all, why the HubSpot Email Marketing Software proscribes the use of purchased or third-party listings. Emailing people who didnat ask or expect to be contacted by you completely contradicts the inbound methodology.

Zombie Bots

Contrary to what the name might suggest, zombie bots donat try to eat humans. Rather, theyare the kind that find a way to permeate your computeras security system, but take it a step further than imposter bots — once they gain access, they operate in the background, often utilizing your computer to transmit viruses and other malware.

It might begin with one machine, but often this type of bot activity leads to an aarmya of zombie bots — a.k.a. a abotneta — which Cloudbric describes as aa network of zombified sites[ that] receive commands from the head zombie, who is likely a spammer, a hacker, or a mercenary.a Many times, the motivation behind this is financial, as these ahead zombiesa have been known to sell this type of hacked computer access to others, allowing them to utilize it for similarly malicious distribution.

But Don’t Be Afraid

As terrifying as some of these bad bots might voice, donat let them scare you — there are ways to prevent them from encroaching on your content and technology.

First, awareness is a good first step. Now that youave reviewed the different types of bots out there, you might be able to more easily recognise any potentially harmful activity. Itas always better to be safe than sorry, and if you suspect any malicious bot activity, let your network administrator know as soon as possible.

But try to prevent these attacks before they can even start. Always make sure your antivirus software is up-to-date, and learn more about the security protocols available for your iOS, web hosting platform, or internet service provider.

What other bots should marketers be aware of? Let us know in the comments .

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