“Robocop,” “Ex Machina,” “I Robot”: Hollywood loves to make movies about robots taking over the world, which thankfully is not yet a reality (…though it is 2020). However, on the internet, bots truly have achieved significant critical mass, representing an estimated 37.2% of all internet traffic. Bots are software programs that perform routine tasks and execute commands automatically. All bots are not created equal. There are different types of bots—some good, some bad:
- Good bots: Good bots include search engines, which can help drive traffic to a website, as well as tools such as virtual assistants and chatbots, which provide a quick and efficient means of customer engagement.
- Bad bots: Bots can be used for fraud or malicious disruption in many ways. In 2019, bad bots made up an estimated 24.1% of internet traffic. Bots are used for brute-force or credential stuffing attacks, card testing, and distributed denial of service, just to name a few.
- Questionable bots: There is a whole class of bots whose activity can be either good or bad, depending on a business’s goals. Scraper bots are a prime example. While these bots can aggregate content that is used to drive third-party sales channels (think of online travel agencies and airlines), scrapers are also a key tool in promotional abuse—a rising problem. Spider bots are another example. While businesses can use these to index their sites to help improve search engine optimization routines, bad actors can also use them to find vulnerabilities.
Bad bots and questionable bots can have a number of adverse impacts on a business: learn more about bot detection