An Internet Bot is a software application that does repetitive and automated tasks in the Internet that would otherwise take humans a long time to do. The most common Internet bots are the spider bots which are used for web server analyses and file data gathering. Bots are also used to provide the required higher response rate for some online services like online auctions and online gaming.
Web interface programs like instant messaging and Internet chat relay applications can also be used by Internet bots to provide automated responses to customers. These Internet bots can be used to give weather updates, currency exchange rates, sports results, telephone numbers, etc. Examples are Jabberwacky of Yahoo Messenger or SmarterChild by AOL instant messenger. Moreover, Bots may be used as censors in chat rooms and forums.
Today, bots are used in even more applications and are even available for home and business use. These new bots are based on a code called LAB code which uses the Artificial Intelligence Mark-up Language. Some sites like Lots-A-Bots and RunABot offer these types of services where one can send automated IMs, emails, replies, etc.
The Different Kinds of Bots
Bots have a wide variety of uses in the internet. They can be used for commercial as well as malicious purposes.
Trading Bots: Bots are used in eBay to look for the best bargains. Likewise, Betfair, a UK based bet exchange site, took advantage of the growing popularity of these bots that they have set up the WebService API to process these bot transactions.
SpamBots: Spambots are bots that spreads content and advertising links all over the internet. These spam bots also collect email addresses, phone numbers, etc from forms filled online.
Downloader Bots: These are malicious types of bots that interfere with a user’s Internet connection by automatically downloading entire web pages.
Website Scraper Bots and Copyright Bots: Website scraper bots reprint content from all over the Internet without permission from the copyright owner. On the other hand, copyright bots search the Internet for copied or plagiarized materials in the hopes of getting monetary compensation from the guilty party/parties.
Spybots: Also called surveillance or data mining bots, spybots are utilized to collect data and information from a person (surfing habits), website or company. The information gathered is usually sold to a marketing firm, rival company, etc.
Hacker Bots: Some bots browse the Internet looking for systems with exploitable vulnerabilities. These are then used by the hackers to access and manipulate the victim’s files and folders.
DDoS Bots: Computers and networks that are part of a botnet can be used in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on other websites or servers. Computers or networks that are a part of botnets are called zombie computers because they can be controlled by the owner of the botnet at will.
Other uses of Bots are for buying tickets at online ticketing sites and MMORPG games. Whatever the purpose is, bots are mainly used for commercial gain and/or malicious purposes.