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3 min read

Watch Out for These Malicious Bots

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Zombies, Scrapers, and Bots, oh my!

Fraudsters use malicious bots to spread spam, steal content, collect personal data, and many other nefarious schemes. In 2020, bad bots accounted for 25.6% of all online traffic. With a total of 40.8% of all traffic being bots, the majority of bot traffic is malicious. When over a quarter of all internet traffic is made up of malicious bots, every user is at risk.

The first step to defending yourself and your web assets is simply knowing the different types of bad bots that are out there. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to take the necessary precautions to minimize this threat.have an upper hand in defending yourself. Here’s what you need to know.

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The Types of Bad Bots

Bad bots come in all shapes and sizes, and each one performs a different function. For example, spam bots send out spam emails, zombie bots convert computers into a "zombie army" to aid in a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and file-sharing bots share copyrighted material without permission, just to name a few. Each type of bot has a specific job and performs differently.

Spam Bots. One of the most common and troublesome types of bots are spam bots. These bots will scour the internet for email addresses to collect and send unsolicited spam emails, links, and other junk. They may also be present on lead forms and comment sections. So be careful when filling out any information online - especially if it's a form that asks for your email address.

Related Post: What Is A Bot, Anyway?

Spy Bots. Spy bots are particularly dangerous, as they can collect data about you without your permission. Be sure to install anti-virus software and keep your computer up to date to protect yourself from these harmful bots.

Zombie Bots and Botnets. Zombie bots are compromised computers that hackers have access to and can control from anywhere in the world. While hackers control these computers, users usually have no idea. A collection of zombie computers is called a botnet. Botnets are often used to send spam, conduct DDoS attacks, or mine cryptocurrencies.

Related Post: Botnet Detection 101: Everything You Need To Know

File-Sharing Bots. When you're online, be on the lookout for malicious bots. These bots can spread malware, viruses, and other harmful files to unsuspecting users. One common way that these bots operate is by posting links to malicious websites or files on social media platforms like Facebook. So, if you're looking for information on the latest movie release, be careful about clicking any links that are posted by bots. Instead, try doing a Google search to find the information you're looking for.

Chat Bot. Chat bots are one type of malicious bot. They're designed to emulate human interaction in order to acquire personal information. You'll often find them on dating sites, messaging apps, or chat rooms. Be very careful about giving any personal information to chat bots - they may end up using it for nefarious purposes.

Scraper Bots. Scraper bots "scrape" or steal high-quality content from other websites and repurpose it on their own sites, which can hurt your website's search engine rankings. It can be hard to spot stolen content unless specifically searching for it. Protect yourself by being aware of these bots and taking steps to protect your website.

Transfer Bots. These bots attach themselves to websites and wait for users to click. Then, transfer bots will redirect users to bad sites set up by fraudsters. Be careful when clicking on links, especially if they seem too good to be true and make sure that you're always going to trusted sources!

Click Bots. If you’ve used pay per click ads, you’ve probably run into click bots. These bots are designed to click on ads without ever buying anything. They exist purely to drive up advertising costs by artificially inflating ad clicks.

Impersonator Bots. Impersonator bots are becoming more and more sophisticated, and they can easily go undetected. They mimic human behavior online, filling out forms and clicking through sites. As bots become more sophisticated, security mechanisms like CAPTCHA are becoming easier for bots to crack.

How to Protect Yourself

Don’t be fooled by bad bots. Now that you’re familiar with their characteristics, here are some extra tips to protect yourself.

  • Don’t click any suspicious links.
  • Set up malware protection for your devices.
  • Don’t share personal information on unsecured online platforms.
  • Track your analytics if you’re running an ad.
  • Block sketchy IP addresses.
  • Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Now that we know what bots are and how they can be used maliciously, it's important to take steps to protect yourself from them. Almost half of website traffic is made up of bots, so make sure you're taking the necessary precautions to keep your business safe. If you need help protecting your website or digital assets, contact us today. We have experts who can help you get set up with the right security measures to keep your data safe from these harmful bots.


Updated: January 2022