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Different Types of Internet Bots and How They Are Used

Internet bots are software applications that are used on the Internet for both legitimate and malicious purposes. Because of the increasing number of applications becoming available online, there are many different types of Internet bots that assist with running applications such as instant messenger and online gaming applications as well as analysis and gathering of data files.

Search engines use bots to index Web pages for ranking in search results. Bots are also used for delivery of media and live streaming for different types of browsers. Hackers also use bots to perform malicious acts on the Internet and to breach the security of PCs through the installation of malicious files.

Types of Legitimate Bots

There are many different types of bots that perform legitimate tasks on the Internet that would otherwise take a person a long time to execute. These types of bots serve a purpose and act as a time saver for different applications.

  • Spider Bots: These are used by the search engines to explore Web pages for content, organization and linking. Spider bots have certain criteria for indexing and determine the ranking of Web pages within the search results.
  • Trading Bots: These are bots that spider the online auction sites to locate the best deals on a specific product or service. In this case, a trading bot is used for commercial gain.
  • Media Bots: Media bots are used to provide updates on weather conditions, news and sports, currency exchange, and are used as censors in applications that run chat rooms and instant messenger programs.

Types of Malicious Bots

Bots are also used in a variety of ways to perform malicious acts and network security breaches.

  • Spam Bots: This type of bot spiders the Internet for the purpose of collecting data from forms that have been filled out online, spreading advertisements and pop-ups throughout the Internet, and collecting email addresses for the purpose of spamming.
  • Hacker Bots: Hackers use this type of bot to crawl around the Internet and find vulnerabilities in websites and online applications so they can exploit them for malicious purposes.
  • Botnets: Botnets are networks that hackers set up online by using "zombie" computers to perform malicious acts such as denial of service attacks. Zombie computers are computers that have been taken over by the hacker without the knowledge of the PC owner.
  • Download Bots: These are bots that are used to forcibly download a Web page that the hacker wants the surfer to see instead of a Web page that the surfer requested.
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In 2003, more than 10 million Americans fell victim to identity theft.

Identity theft costs business and individuals $53 billion dollars annually

In 2003, Americans spent 300 million hours resolving issues related to identity theft.

70% of all identity theft cases are perpetrated by a co-worker or employee of an affiliated business.