A bot, which is short for ‘robot,’ is an automated software usually programmed to do repetitive and routine tasks faster than a person can. It runs strictly according to the instructions programmed into it. It doesn’t need human supervision. Based on how bots are used, they can be good or spam bots.
Good bots are from legitimate businesses and are used for their customers’ benefits. These are the chatbots, social bots, and search engine bots, to name a few. Bad bots, on the other hand, are harmful bots; they scan for vulnerabilities, launch denial of service (DDoS) attacks, or automate spam campaigns. And as human web traffic increases, so do the bots’ activities—unfortunately, bad bots are now more aggressive than good bots.
This article, however, focuses on spam bots, and the things you need to know about them.
- Know What Spam Bots Are
A spam bot is a computer program that enables the automated sending of ‘spam,’ or unwanted or unsolicited emails. Spam bots are also capable of posting spam messages on internet forums or social media platforms. They engage in malicious activities such as collecting email addresses, posting fake comments on forums, displaying irrelevant advertisements, among others.
The unwanted messages they send can sometimes contain forms or phishing links to obtain your personal information. There are even spaming bots that spread false promos for websites to increase traffic. Fortunately, you can tell when you’re dealing with a bot or not. You can learn the facts here.
- Know How Spam Bots Operate
There are many fake accounts you can find in internet forums, messaging apps, email hosting services, or social media platforms. These fake accounts are more often than not created by spam bots. Sometimes, these bots-created fake accounts even mimic a human user’s activities.
Spam bots create fake accounts by automatically filling out fields on forms, such as name, email address, and other basic information. A sufficiently skilled programmer can easily create spam bot that can do this. Some platforms, in an attempt to prevent this type of spam bot, require CAPTCHAs or other challenges. But there are spam bot that can overcome these.
Once the spam bot, using fake accounts, have infiltrated the platform, they would start generating spam messages.
- Know How Spam Bots Harvest Emails
Spam email senders require as many emails as they can get. Often, they use bots to harvest email addresses. Bots harvest emails by using programs called web spiders to scan web pages. Spammers can also harvest emails directly from Google search results.
Spammers would then push out as many spam emails as necessary to the email addresses they’ve collected. Many of these spam emails would try to steal your account credentials using phishing, while others attempt to spread malware. These are all illegal. Moreover, these spammers also use email spoofing, a technique that makes emails look like they came from authentic users.
- Know How Spam Bots Work In The Comments Sections
Spam bots also make their presence felt in some websites’ comments section. They proliferate in the comments sections that don’t require a user account before posting something. A forum that doesn’t bother to install an adequate verification system, or check whether or not the commenter is a spam bot, should be avoided. Often, these websites are playgrounds of spam bots.
But spam bots are getting aggressive. Some can get past a website’s verification system and other protections. And if these accounts do get kicked out, spam bots would just create another set. This way, spam bots can continue to automate publishing and spreading spam through the comments sections.
- Know How Spam Bots Work In Social Media
By now, anybody who had ever used any one of the major social media platforms—Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter—has come across one of these bots. Usually, these spam bots post promo messages about products, offers, or deals. A few promote investment schemes. Spam bot typically do these on any post that has many commenters.
These are usually fake accounts or one of those real accounts that have been hacked. Anyone can be fooled by these accounts. These accounts often seem normal and authentic. Social media bots, to make themselves look real, sometimes steal the profile pictures of real users.
Social media, internet forums, websites—anywhere on the internet, you can find these annoying little bots. That’s why you should know how to recognize these bots because they can really do a lot of mischief. Spam bot can spread malware, steal your credentials, bombard your mailbox with spam emails, and others.
Knowing what they are, recognizing their behavior, and learning how not to engage with them is important to protect yourself from their more egregious effects.