What Is A Bot Program

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What is a bot? | Bot definition | Cloudflare

What is a bot?
A bot is a software application that is programmed to do certain tasks. Bots are automated, which means they run according to their instructions without a human user needing to manually start them up every time. Bots often imitate or replace a human user’s behavior. Typically they do repetitive tasks, and they can do them much faster than human users could.
Bots usually operate over a network; more than half of Internet traffic is bots scanning content, interacting with webpages, chatting with users, or looking for attack targets. Some bots are useful, such as search engine bots that index content for search or customer service bots that help users. Other bots are “bad” and are programmed to break into user accounts, scan the web for contact information for sending spam, or perform other malicious activities. If it’s connected to the Internet, a bot will have an associated IP address.
Bots can be:
Chatbots: Bots that simulate human conversation by responding to certain phrases with programmed responses
Web crawlers (Googlebots): Bots that scan content on webpages all over the Internet
Social bots: Bots that operate on social media platforms
Malicious bots: Bots that scrape content, spread spam content, or carry out credential stuffing attacks
What is malicious bot activity?
Any automated actions by a bot that violate a website owner’s intentions, the site’s Terms of Service, or the site’s rules for bot behavior can be considered malicious. Bots that attempt to carry out cybercrime, such as identity theft or account takeover, are also “bad” bots. While some of these activities are illegal, bots do not have to break any laws to be considered malicious.
In addition, excessive bot traffic can overwhelm a web server’s resources, slowing or stopping service for the legitimate human users trying to use a website or an application. Sometimes this is intentional and takes the form of a DoS or DDoS attack.
Malicious bot activity includes:
Credential stuffing
Web/content scraping
DoS or DDoS attacks
Brute force password cracking
Inventory hoarding
Spam content
Email address harvesting
Click fraud
To carry out these attacks and disguise the source of the attack traffic, bad bots may be distributed in a botnet, meaning copies of the bot are running on multiple devices, often without the knowledge of the device owners. Because each device has its own IP address, botnet traffic comes from tons of different IP addresses, making it more difficult to identify and block the source of the malicious bot traffic.
How can companies stop malicious bot activity?
Bot management solutions are able to sort out harmful bot activity from user activity and helpful bot activity via machine learning. Cloudflare Bot Management stops malicious behavior without impacting the user experience or blocking good bots. Bot management solutions should be able to identify and block malicious bots based on behavioral analysis that detects anomalies, and still allow helpful bots to access web properties.
To learn more about setting up bot protection, see our Developer documentation.
What are Bots and How Do they Work? - WhatIs.com

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What are Bots and How Do they Work? – WhatIs.com

A bot — short for “robot” and also called an internet bot — is a computer program that operates as an agent for a user or other program, or to simulate a human activity. Bots are normally used to automate certain tasks, meaning they can run without specific instructions from humans.
An organization or individual can use a bot to replace a repetitive task that a human would otherwise have to perform. Bots are also much faster at these tasks than humans.
How do bots work?
Normally, bots will operate over a network. Bots that can communicate with one another will use internet-based services to do so — such as instant messaging, interfaces like Twitterbots or through Internet Relay Chat (IRC). In general, more than half of internet traffic is bots that interact with web pages, talk with users, scan for content and perform other tasks.
Bots are made from sets of algorithms which aid them in their designated tasks. Tasks bots can normally handle include conversing with a human — which attempts to mimic human behaviors — or gathering content from other websites. There are plenty of different types of bots designed differently to accomplish a wide variety of tasks.
As an example, a chatbot will operate on one of multiple methods of operation. A rule-based chatbot will interact with people by giving pre-defined prompts for the individual to select. An intellectually independent chatbot will make use of machine learning to learn from human inputs as well as watching out for known keywords. AI chatbots are a combination of rule-based and intellectually independent chatbots. Chatbots may also use pattern matching, natural language processing (NLP) and natural language generation (NLG) tools.
Organizations or individuals that make use of bots can also use bot management software, which includes software tools that aid in managing bots and protecting against malicious bots. Bot managers can be included as part of a web app security platform. A bot manager can be used to allow the use of some bots and block the use of others that might cause harm to a system. To do this, a bot manager will classify any incoming requests by humans and good bots and known malicious and unknown bots. Any suspect bot traffic is then directed away from a site by the bot manager. Some basic bot management feature sets include IP rate limiting and CAPTCHAs. IP rate limiting will limit the number of same-address-requests, while CAPTCHAs are used as a sort of puzzle to differentiate bots from humans.
Types of bots
There are numerous types of bots, all with unique goals and tasks. Some common bots include:
A chatbot — which is a program that can simulate talk with a human being. One of the first and most famous chatbots (prior to the web) was Eliza, a program that pretended to be a psychotherapist and answered questions with other questions.
Social bots — which are bots that operate on social media platforms.
A shopbot — which is a program that shops around the web on your behalf and locates the best price for a product you’re looking for. There are also bots such as OpenSesame that observe a user’s patterns in navigating a web site and customize the site for that user.
A knowbot — which is a program that collects knowledge for a user by automatically visiting Internet sites to retrieve information that meets certain specified criteria.
Spiders or crawlers (also known as a web crawler) — which are used to access web sites and gather their content for the indexes in search engines.
Web scraping crawlers — which are similar to crawlers but are used for data harvesting and extracting relevant content.
Monitoring bots — which can be used to monitor the health of a website or system.
Transactional bots — which can be used to complete transactions on behalf of a human.
Bots may also be classified as good bots and bad bots, or in other words, bots that will not harm the system and bots that pose threats and can harm the system.
Examples and uses of bots
Bots can be used in customer service fields as well as in areas like business, scheduling, search functionality and entertainment. Using a bot in each area brings different benefits. For example, in customer service, bots are available 24/7 and increase the availability of customer service employees, allowing them to focus on more complicated issues.
Red and Andrette were names of two early programs that could be customized to answer questions from users seeking service for a product. Such a program is sometimes called a virtual representative or a virtual agent.
Other services that use bots include:
Instant messenger apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Slack;
News apps such as the Wall Street Journal, to show news headlines;
Spotify, which allows users to search for and share tracks via Facebook Messenger;
Lyft, in which a user can request a ride from instant messenger apps; and
Meeting scheduling services, such as
Malicious bots
Malicious bots are bots used to automate actions considered to be cybercrimes. Common types of malicious bots include:
DoS or DDoS bots, which use an overwhelming number of bots to overload a server’s resources and halting the service from operating.
Spambots, which post promotional content to drive traffic to a specific website.
Hackers, which are bots made to distribute malware and attack websites.
Other malicious bots include web crawlers, credential stuffing, email address harvesting and brute force password cracking. Organizations can stop malicious bots by using a bot manager.
Advantages and disadvantages
There are plenty of advantages that come with using bots as well as disadvantages, such as risks that other bots could propose. Some potential advantages of bots include:
Faster than humans at repetitive tasks;
Time saved for customers and clients;
Available 24/7;
Organizations can reach large numbers of people via messenger apps;
Bots are customizable; and
Improved user experience.
Some disadvantages include:
Bots cannot be set to perform some exact tasks and they risk misunderstanding users.
Humans are still necessary to manage the bots as well as to step in if one misinterprets another human.
Bots can be made malicious by users.
Bots can be used for spam.
This was last updated in January 2020
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Bots, explained - Vox

Bots, explained – Vox

While the technology to simulate conversation with a computer has been around for decades, bots — or “chatbots” — are an increasingly trendy model for software.
This new obsession came on fast. But why? Where did these bots come from? Who is building them? What for? Is a fake conversation better than just clicking buttons? You’ll be hearing a lot more about bots soon, so here’s an overview.
What is a bot?
A bot is software that is designed to automate the kinds of tasks you would usually do on your own, like making a dinner reservation, adding an appointment to your calendar or fetching and displaying information. The increasingly common form of bots, chatbots, simulate conversation. They often live inside messaging apps — or are at least designed to look that way — and it should feel like you’re chatting back and forth as you would with a human.
What do bots do?
Some bots are used to handle a variety of customer service requests, which would normally require a telephone call to a human agent. One example: Taco Bell has released a bot that allows you to order and pay for tacos through an automated chat conversation.
Other bots like can help schedule your meetings for you. Simply add the bot to your email thread, and it will take over back-and-forth conversation needed to schedule a meeting, alert you once it’s been arranged and add it to your calendar. As bot technology improves, the thinking is that bots will be able to automate all kinds of things; perhaps even something as complex as your taxes.
Where do bots live?
Chatbots already exist in many of the places where you communicate, primarily messaging apps, which lend themselves to a conversational interface. There are bots in Slack, the business-focused messaging service, many of which aim to help with work-related tasks like expenses or to-do lists.
Kik Messenger, which has 275 million registered users, recently announced a bot store. This includes one bot to send people Vine videos and another for getting makeup suggestions from Sephora. Twitter has had bots for years, like this bot that tweets about earthquakes as soon as they’re registered or a Domino’s bot that allows you to order a pizza by tweeting a pizza emoji.
Many expect Facebook to roll out a bot store of some kind at its annual F8 conference for software developers this week, which means these bots may soon operate inside Messenger, its messaging app. It has already started testing a virtual assistant bot called “M, ” but the product is only available for a few people and still primarily powered by humans.
Who is building these bots?
Many of the same companies that are building the apps that you use on your phones are building bots. A bunch of big companies are betting big on bots, including Microsoft and Slack, which has easy access for bots.
Google, the company with perhaps the greatest artificial intelligence chops and the biggest collection of data about you — both of which power effective bots — has been behind here. But it is almost certainly plotting ways to catch up. Google Now, its personal assistant system built within Android, serves many functions of the new wave of bots, but has had hiccups. The company is reportedly working on a chatbot that will live in a mobile messaging product and is experimenting with ways to integrate Now deeper with search.
Where did the idea for bots come from?
Bots have been around for more than 50 years. With the recent global boom in mobile messaging apps, such as WeChat, Facebook Messenger and Slack, they’re seen as increasingly relevant. They’ve likely been right under your nose. The first bots on Twitter starting rolling out in 2006.
Why are we hearing so much about them now?
One key reason: The technology that powers bots, artificial intelligence software, is improving dramatically, thanks to heightened interest from key Silicon Valley powers like Facebook and Google. That AI enables computers to process language — and actually converse with humans — in ways they never could before. It came about from unprecedented advancements in software (Google’s Go-beating program, for example) and hardware capabilities.
Another reason is that Facebook, which has 900 million Messenger users, is expected to get into bots. Many see this as a big potential opportunity; where Facebook goes, the rest of the industry often follows. Slack, which lends itself to bot-based services, has also grown dramatically to two million daily users, which bot makers and investors see as a potentially lucrative market.
It helps that messaging is seen as a fresh opportunity, especially for interacting with a corporation in the same personal space you’d normally interact with a friend.
“The chat space is sort of the last unpolluted space [on your phone], ” said Sam Mandel, who works at the startup studio Betaworks and is also building a weather bot for Slack called Poncho. “It’s like the National Park of people’s online experience. Right now, the way people use chat services, it’s really a good private space that you control. ” (That, of course, could quickly go sour if early implementations are too spammy or useless. )
You might also argue that the increasing use of consumer technology has made people impatient, especially when it comes to customer service. Social media helped streamline those conversations, and now bots can automate them.
Will bots replace apps? Are they better?
Part of the current obsession with bots is driven by a perceived fatigue with apps — so developers and companies are looking to bots as a new path to reach consumers.
But bots won’t kill apps anytime soon. It’s more likely they could replace parts of some apps, especially where there’s some sort of complex transaction involved or customer service. The downside of bots is that they’re often one-dimensional.
“I’ve seen a lot of hyperbole around bots as the new apps, but I don’t know if I believe that, ” said Prashant Sridharan, Twitter’s global director of developer relations. “I don’t think we’re going to see this mass exodus of people stopping building apps and going to build bots. I think they’re going to build bots in addition to the app that they have or the service they provide. ”
While AI advancements have propelled bots, industry insiders caution that the AI is not quite yet capable for really polished chat bots. Computers can cull up baseball stats or recommend a restaurant, but they still can’t maintain a complex conversation (which is why Facebook’s “M” is still powered by humans).
“To be honest, I’m a little worried about the bot hype overtaking the bot reality, ” said M. G. Siegler, a partner with GV, the investment firm formerly known as Google Ventures. “Yes, the high level promise of what bots can offer is great. But this isn’t going to happen overnight. And it’s going to take a lot of experimentation and likely bot failure before we get there. ”
What’s the business model for bots?
There are obvious revenue opportunities around subscriptions, advertising and commerce. If bots are designed to save you time that you’d normally spend on mundane tasks or interactions, it’s possible they’ll seem valuable enough to justify a subscription fee. If bots start to replace some of the functions that you’d normally use a search engine like Google for, it’s easy to imagine some sort of advertising component. Or if bots help you shop, the bot-maker could arrange for a commission.
(More immediately, bot hosting platforms like Facebook and Slack potentially stand to make money from companies that want to promote their bot to new users. Or at least from getting people to spend more time with their services, if bots prove useful. )
Part of the appeal of bots is that they simply automate things that companies are currently paying humans to do. So some value may be more about cost savings than new revenue streams.
Additional reporting by Mark Bergen and Ina Fried.
This article originally appeared on

Frequently Asked Questions about what is a bot program

What is a bot and how does it work?

A bot — short for “robot” and also called an internet bot — is a computer program that operates as an agent for a user or other program, or to simulate a human activity. Bots are normally used to automate certain tasks, meaning they can run without specific instructions from humans.

What is the main purpose of a bot?

A bot is software that is designed to automate the kinds of tasks you would usually do on your own, like making a dinner reservation, adding an appointment to your calendar or fetching and displaying information. The increasingly common form of bots, chatbots, simulate conversation.Apr 11, 2016

Are bot programs illegal?

Are sneaker bots illegal? At least in the U.S., the answer is no. … The U.S. BOTS Act of 2016 made it illegal to buy tickets with bots by evading security measures and breaking purchasing rules set up by the ticket issuer.Feb 1, 2021

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