Bots are taking over the internet. Research shows that they account for over one-third of all online traffic. For every 100 “hits” a website generates, for instance, only about 66 of them will be from real users. The remaining traffic will consist of bots.
The good news is that most bots are harmless. They are often used for legitimate purposes, Google uses them to crawl websites, and analytics programs use them to track visitors and how they interact with websites. But bots are used for nefarious purposes as well. Bots can pose several cyber threats to internet users. Even if you don’t operate a website, you could be targeted by one or more bots while using the internet.
Certain types of bots can capture your strokes. A cyber threat known as keylogging, it can expose sensitive information to nefarious individuals. You may visit a banking website where you enter your name and password to view your bank accounts. If there’s a keylogging bot on the banking website, your login credentials will be exposed.
Keylogging bots typically hide in the background of a given website. In most cases, they don’t reveal themselves. They simply run as background processes while capturing the keystrokes of users. As bots collect this data, they’ll either store it or transmit to a remote device, such as a hacker’s computer.
In addition to keylogging, bots are often used in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Nearly all DDoS attacks, in fact, leverage a network of bots. Some of them use tens of thousands of bots, whereas others use hundreds of thousands or even millions of bots.
DDoS attacks are a form of networking spam. They involve a nefarious individual taking control of many internet-connected devices. After taking control of these devices, the individual uses them to send data packets to a victim’s Internet Protocol (IP) address or network.
Malware infections can be caused by bots as well. Bots themselves typically aren’t considered malware. Rather, they are used to transmit malware onto victims’ devices. If you visit a website — or even connected to a network — that contains a bot, it may be used to send malware to your computer.
Whether it’s a virus, ransomware, trojan or a worm, malware infections can be caused by bots. Hackers use bots to transfer malware from one device to another device. Along with keylogging and DDoS attacks, malware is a common cyber threat poses by bots.
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