What is a bot?

Glossary What is a bot?

Short for robot, a bot is a software application programmed to perform automated and pre-defined tasks via Robotic Process Automation. Bots tend to imitate human user behavior, doing their tasks significantly faster than a human could. They are built to run independently without human supervision.

How do bots work?

A computer bot follows precise instructions to interact with other bots or with humans, applying standard network communication protocols. Every process built for a bot is rule-based and must be well-defined for it to operate as expected.

Typically, bots begin operating based on a predefined trigger. For example, a keyword in a user’s message for help on social media could trigger a bot to reply to the user with relevant information.

What are bots used for?

Computer bots are used for a wide variety of purposes. Did you know that almost half of global internet traffic is generated by bots? This is because bots need to operate over a network. So, they use the internet to chat with website users, scan content, interact with different web pages, or seek out targets for malicious activity.

What are the different types of bots?

There are many different types of bots, some for legitimate purposes and others for nefarious ones.

  • Chatbots: This type of bot responds to specific phrases with programmed responses, resembling a human conversation. While chatbots have been around for some time, they’ve grown in prominence with the introduction of machine learning and AI technologies, allowing for the development of chatbots like ChatGPT.
  • Monitoring bots: These bots report bugs and vulnerabilities to protect a website. A monitoring bot can also be employed to follow users’ activity on a website.
  • Social bots: A social bot utilizes a social media platform’s algorithm to imitate human behavior on the platform by posting, messaging, and interacting with human users.
  • Search engine bots (web crawlers): Search engine bots index internet web pages to help search engines optimize the user’s search experience using the data the bots extract.
  • Scraping bots: These bots are a subcategory of web crawling bots that search for and download specific internet content and put it in a database. For example, online retailers use scraping bots to gather competitive intelligence and market insights.
  • Shopping bots: A shopping bot can scan websites to find consumers the best price for a product or provide personalized shopping recommendations.
  • Transaction bots: Similarly, a transaction bot checks payment details and personal data during an online checkout process to ensure all is in order.
  • Fraud bots: These bots are used to carry out fraudulent and illegal activity. Below, we’ll cover the different types of fraud bots.
Types of bots

Bot management: Good bot vs. bad bot

Many digital processes today are made possible using bots, but not all are good. Bot management is the act of filtering bots by desirable and undesirable bot behavior. A bot manager is software that blocks malicious bot traffic and allows helpful bots to access web properties. Note that your mobile measurement provider (MMP) should have a fraud prevention solution that acts as a bot manager for your marketing campaign data.

Bot fraud: 5 types of fraud bots

A computer robot can be used for good, neutral, or malicious purposes. Unfortunately, one of the main uses of bad bots is to perform illegal activity. Below are the most common types of bot fraud.

  1. Fake engagement bots are commonly employed on social media to inflate follower numbers, likes, and video views to impact a platform’s algorithm.
  2. Credential stuffing bots are built to hack websites by cracking user passwords and taking over their accounts to steal data.
  3. Attack bots are most commonly used for ransomware, in which they shut down a website and cause significant disruption to a business until a ransom is paid.
  4. Content scraping bots are the evil twin of scraping bots because they are used by fraudsters to copy or spoof entire websites. Imagine users completing credit card transactions on fake websites and losing this money. That would be the work of content scraping bots.
  5. Ad fraud bots imitate user engagement and can deeply impact paid ads for advertisers. The most common types of bot-based fraud include SDK spoofing, click injection, device emulators, and click spam.

For a deeper dive into ad fraud bots contributing to mobile ad fraud, we recommend reading our guide to mobile fraud.

Mobile bot fraud and Adjust

Growth marketers, if all this talk of bot fraud is making you nervous, don’t fret. You don’t have to give up a percentage of your revenue to mobile bot fraud or worry about privacy leaks from bots if you have the right measurement partner.

Adjust is the only MMP whose next-gen measurement platform proactively protects against ad fraud, including mobile bot fraud. With real-time rejection of fraudulent installs, our clients never pay for fake installs. Adjust’s Fraud Prevention solution protects against SDK spoofing, click injection, device farms, and click spam because we know protecting your marketing data from fraud-related data errors is crucial to safeguarding your ad budgets.

If you’d like to see Adjust’s Fraud Prevention solution in action, request your demo now.

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