Tech Me Out

Tech me out: A beginners guide to bots

The third in our blog series, ‘Tech Me Out’, aimed at demystifying and explaining some of the technologies and technical terms we encounter and use every day in the b2b tech PR world.

What is a bot?

A bot is a software application that is programmed to run automated tasks. Bots typically perform tasks that are simple and repetitive, such as scanning content on webpages or ordering food, and at a much faster rate than humans can. Wonder how you can order a Whopper through Facebook Messenger? It’s thanks to a bot! They’re so popular that bots today represent more than half of all online traffic.

 Why is it important?

Bots fall into two different categories: good bots and bad bots. The good ones notably include chat bots that simulate conversations with a human and that are often accessed via virtual assistants, such as Google Assistant or Alexa; copyright bots that look for improper use of proprietary content, or trader bots that crawl the web to help you find the best deal on a pair of shoes or plane ticket, saving you time and money. However, bots can be malicious too, and carry all sorts of attacks.

Why should I care about it?

Whether you are a business or an individual, you could be the next target. Bots can be tailored to target specific elements of a website. For example, a payment system to test the validity of thousands of stolen credit card details. Or perhaps a website’s log-in forms to take over an account by injecting usernames and passwords until a match is found. Or even, automated spam that can skew marketing analytics and lead to the wrong decisions being made.

To make sure you don’t fall victim to malicious bot activity, invest in a bot management solution or start using a password manager.

 Who’s talking about it?

Unlike the majority of bot vendors, cybersecurity company and the UK’s first government-approved bot management service Netacea, is focusing on what bots intend to do and why, rather than how they are doing it. This means that only malicious bots are hunted out and genuine users are always prioritised.

 Useful links:

Good Bots vs Bad Bots: how to tell the difference

Understanding the sneaker bot phenomenon

If you are struggling with any technical jargon or want a simple explanation for that complex tech you are working on, let us know and we will simplify it for you!

Written by Florie Lhuillier


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