What is a Bot? A Complete Guide in 2022
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What is a Bot?

Bots are software programs that run automatically without any specific instructions from users. Engineers design bots to imitate human behavior.  But the real catch here is that these are automated. This means they carry out repetitive tasks faster and more efficiently than their human counterparts.

Bots are present everywhere on the internet. In fact, it is estimated that bots generate almost 40% of the traffic over the internet. These bots are very useful and help us scan and index content, assist users, etc. 

But, on the other hand, some bots are considered ‘bad.’ These bots are created with malicious intent to perform harmful activities like hacking accounts, sending spam, etc. 

In this article, you will learn how a bot works, its types, and the difference between a good bot and a bad bot. You will also learn how to detect and prevent a bad bot from crawling into your system.

Feel free to jump to any sections to learn more about “What is a bot?”

How Do Bots Work?

Types of Bots

Chatbots

Web Crawlers (Spiders)

Social Media Bots

Shopbots

Knowbots

Web Scrapers

Transactional Bots

Copyright Bots

Commercial Bots

Aggregator Bots

Marketing Bots

Voice Bots

Good Bot Vs  Bad Bot

How to Detect and Prevent Bad Bots

Best Proxy Server for Your Bots

FAQs

Closing Thoughts

How Do Bots Work?

Different bots work differently based on their purpose or intent. 

Well-programmed bots use machine learning algorithms to learn as they accomplish their designated tasks. These bots use tools like pattern recognition, pattern matching, and natural language processing (NLP) to detect patterns and imitate human behavior. 

For example, a smart chatbot interacts with users and learns from the user’s interactions. It will change its behavior accordingly in its future user interactions. Some bots, like Twitterbots, can communicate with other bots over the internet and coordinate their activities. 

In the following section, we’ll see what each type of bot does one by one. 

Types of Bots

Chatbots

Chatbots are used in customer feedback conversations and offer assistance or guidance for an online user. They mimic human behavior by responding to certain phrases with programmed responses.

Two different types of chatbots exist. The first is a rule-based chatbot that interacts with a person by giving predefined options to the user. These bots have predictable behavior. 

Another is Artificial Intelligence(AI) driven, and it has a set of automated rules, natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning (ML). These bots can learn from human interactions and alter their behavior accordingly. 

Web Crawlers (Spiders)

Crawling is automatically accessing a website and obtaining data via a program. Typically, a web crawler discovers URLs and categorizes them in a library. They identify the hyperlinks to other web pages and include them in the list of pages to crawl to next. For this reason, they’re also referred to as spiders. 

Web crawlers learn almost all the web pages on the internet so long as they’re listed. They scan and categorize websites so that the search engine can return the requested information.

Social Media Bots

They are automated programs that operate on social media platforms. They can generate messages automatically, suggest ideas, follow a user, or act as a fake user to gain followers.

Also, a malicious social media bot can create a fake account, post random content, and add friends or followers to its profile. These are used to share marketing messages or political statements. 

Shopbots

Shopping bots, also known as ‘Shopbots,’ find the best online deals for products like books, games, and electronic gadgets. It searches through multiple online stores, compares the price, and links the user to their preferred website.

It’s a price comparison tool that lets buyers link directly to the website of the online product. It facilitates the buyers to make decisions by getting quotes from multiple retailers for the same product. 

Knowbots

A knowbot collects information by gathering certain information from websites. KNOWBOT is an acronym for Knowledge-Based Object Technology. These bots gain knowledge as they collect information for the users. They automatically crawl different websites and learn information on topics based on the user’s query.

Web Scrapers

Web scrapers harvest data and extract relevant content from web pages. It extracts information from websites and stores it in the form of XML, Excel spreadsheets, or SQL.

Web scrapers extract data from any website within a few fractions of time. This data is helpful for developing data for machine learning and other purposes.

Transactional Bots

Transactional bots simplify tasks for users, such as blocking a stolen credit card or responding to their queries. An automated chatbot will converse naturally and will keep the customer engaged.

It will highlight the products and services the users might be interested in. It’s a great asset in marketing to scale your sales, lead generation, appointment bookings, and payment collection.

Copyright Bots

Copyright bots, also known as content recognition software, are automated programs that search digital content to determine whether copyright law has been violated. These bots look for plagiarized text, images, music, and video.

Any person or organization that owns the original material may operate these bots and help identify copyright infringement.

The best example is YouTube’s automated bot, the Content ID system, which analyzes new audio and videos uploaded in a channel. It compares this content with an audio and video collection database to identify a match and takes action according to YouTube guidelines.

Commercial Bots

Commercial bots don’t have malicious intent, but they are used to gather information, analyze, and raise your business standards. Market research companies use bots to crawl the internet to monitor customer reviews, information about the market, and news reports. 

Commercial businesses use bots to optimize the internet to display ads where users get the most views. SEO companies use bots to crawl their competitor’s websites to gauge their stand in the market. 

Aggregator Bots

Aggregator bots have a centralized bot that links individual bots together and provides consistent service to answer user requests.  These bots respond based on the privileges the user is entitled to.

In an organization, an employee may wish to view his balance holidays from the portal and also wants to track the performance of their remote project. The aggregator bot understands that this request must be pulled up from different functions and gets the response.

Marketing Bots

Marketing bots automate the marketing process by gathering and tracking leads. They are also used to support users and engage them in conversations. 

Some advanced marketing bots can conduct research based on customer demographics and psychographics. This can be used to personalize the user experience.

Voice Bots

The voice bot finds its purpose in the conversational Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. A user navigates through the IVR system with their voice and doesn’t require using the keys on the keypad.

Voice bots have Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms that learn from the conversation with the user and improve themselves.

Alexa and Apple’s Siri are well-known voice bots and work similarly to search engine bots and crawl websites to answer user queries accurately.

Good Bot Vs Bad Bot

There are both good and malicious bots. Good bots look into the content and index them. These are search engine bots used to index websites and customer service bots that help answer the user’s queries.

Good also bots include the ones that were discussed above. They are used in businesses to automate user tasks and protect you from bad bots. You need good bots to crawl through your webpage so that Google’s search engine can index your page on its library and people can find you on the internet.

Examples of search engine crawlers apart from Google are Bingbot, Yahoo Slurp, Baidu, and many more. 

If the bot is built to carry on malicious activity, then it is a bad bot. These malicious bots are built by cybercriminals, fraudsters, or sometimes by your competitors. Malicious bots break into user accounts, scan the web for contact information to send spam messages, or perform other malicious activities.

Bad bots are programmed to affect your website’s performance, speed, and users. Bad bots will affect your business directly or indirectly when users experience troubles in hacking, account hijacking, scraping, spamming, phishing,  and brute force attacks.

Bad bots can generate fake accounts, post malicious comments, and can make Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS). DDOS has flooded the webserver with malicious requests that are hard to handle above a threshold.

How to Detect and Prevent Bad Bots

A typical method to detect and prevent a bad bot from accessing your webpage is to have a CAPTCHA on the login page. You can have a bot management solution that identifies malicious bot activity and prevents them from entering your website.

You can use monitoring bots to know the habits and the behavior of bad bots’ activities. Then, you may frame rules on the knowledge gained to prevent the bad bots from visiting your website.

Another method is to either block or drop the access of the bot. You may have the bots submit a request form to access your website. If you find it credible, you can assign access, give restricted access alone, or drop it off if it is malicious.

Best Proxy Server for Your Bot:

ProxyScrape is one of the most popular and reliable proxy providers online. Three proxy services include dedicated datacentre proxy servers, residential proxy servers, and premium proxy servers. So, what is the best proxy server for your bot? Before answering that questions, it is best to see the features of each proxy server.

A dedicated datacenter proxy is best suited for high-speed online tasks, such as streaming large amounts of data (in terms of size) from various servers for analysis purposes. It is one of the main reasons organizations choose dedicated proxies for transmitting large amounts of data in a short amount of time.

A dedicated datacenter proxy has several features, such as unlimited bandwidth and concurrent connections, dedicated HTTP proxies for easy communication, and IP authentication for more security. With 99.9% uptime, you can rest assured that the dedicated datacenter will always work during any session. Last but not least, ProxyScrape provides excellent customer service and will help you to resolve your issue within 24-48 business hours. 

Next is a residential proxy. Residential is a go-to proxy for every general consumer. The main reason is that the IP address of a residential proxy resembles the IP address provided by ISP. This means getting permission from the target server to access its data will be easier than usual. 

The other feature of ProxyScrape’s residential proxy is a rotating feature. A rotating proxy helps you avoid a permanent ban on your account because your residential proxy dynamically changes your IP address, making it difficult for the target server to check whether you are using a proxy. 

Apart from that, the other features of a residential proxy are: unlimited bandwidth, along with concurrent connection, dedicated HTTP/s proxies, proxies at any time session because of 7 million plus proxies in the proxy pool, username and password authentication for more security, and last but not least, the ability to change the country server. You can select your desired server by appending the country code to the username authentication. 

The last one is the premium proxy. Premium proxies are the same as dedicated datacenter proxies. The functionality remains the same. The main difference is accessibility. In premium proxies, the proxy list (the list that contains proxies) is made available to every user on ProxyScrape’s network. That is why premium proxies cost less than dedicated datacenter proxies.

So, what is the best possible proxy server for your bot? The answer would be “residential proxy.” The reason is simple. As said above, the residential proxy is a rotating proxy, meaning that your IP address would be dynamically changed over a period of time which can be helpful to trick the server by sending a lot of requests within a small time frame without getting an IP block. Your bot can carry out its task without IP blocking from the target server. 

Next, the best thing would be to change the proxy server based on the country. You just have to append the country ISO_CODE at the end of the IP authentication or username and password authentication.

FAQs:

1. What are bots?

Bots are software programs that run automatically without any specific instructions from users. Engineers design bots to imitate human behavior.

2. What is the main purpose of a bot?

There is no fixed purpose for a bot to work. The purpose will be based on the user’s requirements. For example, if a user is required to scrape a large amount of data, that user can create a bot or use an existing bot online to scrape the required data. The main use of bots is to reduce monotonous tasks for humans by automating those tasks with the help of bots.

3. What is a good bot?

Good bots are used in businesses to automate user tasks and protect you from bad bots. You need good bots to crawl through your webpage so that Google’s search engine can index your page on its library and people can find you on the internet.

Closing Thoughts

Bots have become ubiquitous in automating repetitive tasks over the internet. Moreover, they have changed how businesses deal with customers and collect data. In fact, there are a variety of bots to help you to scale your business, forecast sales, and even provide cyber security. It is up to us to use them properly without malicious intent. 

Please visit our blogs to learn more about how to access websites worldwide using proxies ethically.