The first thing we are going to do is explain what a computer bot is and its positive aspects. Then we will see why they can pose a serious threat to our security. And we will also offer a series of tips to be able to detect them and be prevented.
What is a computer bot
A computer bot We could define it as a computer program that automatically performs repetitive tasks on the Internet by using a chain of commands to perform a specific job. It should also be noted that he often tries to imitate human behavior. An example of a computer bot that does a good deed could be the web crawlers of Internet search engines. The function of this type of bots is to go through web pages automatically and collect information from them. The advantage they have is that they will do it in a more effective and faster way than a human being would be able to do it.
Thus, a good bot could be considered as one that meets the standards of exclusion of robots or protocol of robots.txt. Its method of operation consists of preventing bots Analyzing websites or other research bots show unnecessary information in their search results. An example could be the non-inclusion of the URL of a website that an administrator uses for maintenance or other hidden areas.
Regarding the programming of a computer bot, it should be noted that it can be designed in any programming language and used by a server, a client or a mobile agent. Regarding its programming, it can be designed to:
- Perform very simple tasks such as the reminder of a task or the automation of a process.
- Based on a complex programming to carry out activities that involve decision-making. Those choices are made from filters or parameters included in your programming code.
Now that we know what a computer bot is, let’s see why a bot could be dangerous.
Why a bot can be dangerous
Among the tools that a cybercriminal can use to obtain profits we have viruses, worms, Trojans, the popular ransomware that is affecting thousands of companies and institutions, and also malicious bots.
In this sense, cybercriminals could use a computer bot to perform tasks such as:
- The collection of email addresses for advertising purposes. Its ultimate goal is to send spam or junk mail to our emails. They are usually easy to recognize because they do not try to participate in the conversation and often send a link with a bait.
- Make unauthorized mass copies of web content and then sell or use it.
- The detailed study of the vulnerabilities of software servers, in order to carry out attacks on them.
- Obtaining financial gain by generating false clicks on advertising revenue programs.
The threat of bots on social media
Nowadays, one of the things by which the popularity of an influencer or celebrity is measured is by their number of followers. In this regard, the higher the number, the money and contracts you can sign will also be.
For this reason, you can use a computer bot that simulates a human interaction. Thus, you could artificially increase the number of visits from your followers. You could also automate responses in order to generate interest or influence discussions. Here, they would highlight the so-called conversational bots that are artificial intelligence systems capable of maintaining a conversation with a person in a natural way.
As for tips so that we can detect a computer bot on social networks, we can look at a series of details:
- They tend to repeat their messages a lot and usually talk about the same topic. It is generally done to promote a brand, a product or a website.
- The account registration has a few days, and in addition, they do not usually last long.
- We have to review the messages that other users leave in your account. We can see how you interact with other people, for example, when someone asks you what you know or who you are.
- On the profile only have a single photo.
Botnets or how we can become a computer bot
A Botnet is a network of computer robots or bots at the disposal of the cybercriminal and that they run autonomously and automatically. From then on, the owner of the botnet can remotely control all computers and devices that have been infected. As for the most common way of spreading the computer bot, it is usually in the distribution of illicit software. This illicit software often contains malware, which, after being run, can scan our local area network, hard drives, and can also try to spread using known Windows vulnerabilities.
Once our team becomes a computer bot belonging to the cybercriminal’s botnet, it can be used to:
- A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. It involves significant losses for the company that suffer them, by slowing down or stopping the work of that organization.
- Spam email accounts.
- The mining of Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies. Because the cybercriminal has many computers, he does not have to pay for hardware or energy. Thus, it can be profitable to mine cryptocurrencies.
- The theft of passwords and personal data which can then be sold on the dark web.
How to know if we are in a botnet and protect ourselves? Some signs that may indicate that we have become a computer bot that belongs to a botnet are:
- Have a slower navigation than usual.
- The computer consumes a lot of resources, but we are doing tasks that require little workload.
- We receive a lot of spam messages.
- Some contacts begin to receive messages that we have not sent them.
A good form of prevention would be to have our operating systems with the latest updates on. In addition, we should have antivirus software, and if possible an antimalware, such as Malwarebytes. To this we should also add a tool as important as common sense. We should also be careful with the software we download and use. In addition, the information we publish on the Internet we would have to provide as little data as possible.
On the other hand, OSI, the Internet Security Office, has a service that can check if your IP has recently been related to a botnet. To do this, click here and then click on the button Check your connection.
Then we would get these results:
Finally, here it tells us that our IP is not related to botnets, and therefore there is little chance that we are a computer bot. However, as we recommended above, additional checks are required with antivirus and antimalware software.