A bot is a software application that runs automated tasks over the Internet without human intervention. In prevailing scenario, Bots represent around 60% of all website traffic. Bots are used for both legitimate and malicious purposes. Around 27% of Bots are non-malicious and work towards making Internet better.
Good bots are legitimate bots, the actions of which are beneficial to websites. These bots crawl website for the purpose of SEO, aggregation, market intelligence and analytics. Some examples and use cases of Good Bots are as below:
- Aggregator Bots – Bots that collate information from websites and keep subscribers up-to-date on news, events or blog articles.
- Backlink checker Bots – These bots check the inbound URLs for website which helps marketers and SEO specialists to derive insights, and optimize.
- Monitoring Bots – Bots that are used to monitor uptime and system health of the websites. These periodically report on page load times, downtimes.
- Search engine crawler Bots – These bots or spiders crawl and index web pages, making them available on search engines, like Google, Bing, etc.
- Social Network Bots – Bots that are run by social networking websites that give visibility to your website and drive engagement on their platforms.
Bad bots perform malicious tasks. These bots scan millions of websites and aim to steal website content, consume bandwidth and look for outdated software and plugins. Some examples and use cases of Bad Bots are as below:
- Bandit Bots – These bots are used by hackers to find vulnerabilities in websites and online applications to exploit them for malicious purposes and steal data.
- Scraper Bots – These bots are executed with intent to steal content. Scrapers program these bots to scrape prices and product catalog to undermine the pricing strategies of the target website. Competitors use third-party scrapers to perform these illegal acts.
- Scalper Bots – These bots target ticketing websites, and make bulk purchases. The modus operandi is to purchase maximum available tickets as soon as the bookings open, and sell it to reseller websites at many times the original cost of the ticket.
- Spam Bots – Spam bots primarily target community portals, blog comment sections and lead collection forms. These spam bots insert malicious links like phishing sites, targeting unsuspected users into divulging sensitive information.
- Zombie Bots – These bots infect and turn computer into a zombie, adding it into a network with other infected computers. Hackers then can use the network to perform their misdeeds.
A botnet is a network of private computers infected with malware. Botnets are created to perform malicious activities such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, phishing scams, spam emails, ransomware etc. In most cases, computers become infected and turn into botnets because of a weak end-point security system. Botnets are already evolved and showed their presence in the world of mobile platforms. Zeus, Droid Dream, Tigerbot etc. are some of the mobile bots which have carried out successful botnet attacks in recent past
The next happening in botnet evolution is in the field of internet connected devices. The evolution of IoT botnets is adding to this burning concern. Advanced malware infected botnets can be used to exploit the vulnerabilities in the IoT devices especially Internet protocol video cameras, digital video recorders, internet embedded devices Wi Fi routers etc. to compromise sensitive information. The ‘Mirai botnet’ incepted in August 2016 has already launched multiple high-profile, high-impact DDoS attacks impacting various Internet properties and services.
Botnet detection can be difficult, as bots are designed to operate without user’s knowledge.
There are several measures that can be taken prevent botnet virus infection. Recommended practices for botnet prevention include:
- Awareness – Users must go through security awareness programs on periodic basis. This will ensure users will refrain from activity that puts them at risk of bot infections or other malware.
- Network baselining – Network performance and activities must be monitored
- Software patches – All software (and OS) must be kept up-to-date with security patches.
- Tools – Anti-botnet tools provide botnet detection to augment preventative efforts by finding and blocking bot viruses before infection occurs.
By:- Sapan Talwar