Bots are programs created to automate repetitive tasks, and they fall into two major categories. Good Bots and Bad Bots.
According to ShieldSquare, over 50% of the internet traffic is comprised of bots. And, most of them have malicious intents.
Good bots are beneficial to all online businesses. They help in creating the required visibility of the websites on the internet, and also help these businesses achieve an online authority. When you search for a website or phrases related to the website's products or services, you get relevant results listed on the search page. This is made possible with the help of search engine spiders/bots, or crawler bots. Good bots are regulated. There's a specific pattern to these types of 'regulated' bots and you also get the option to tweak the crawler activity on your website. You can define your website’s robots.txt to define how these crawler bots visit the pages and index them. You can also allow or disallow certain pages from being indexed by search engines. Good bots help in improving the website’s SEO.
Bad bots, generally, don’t play by the rules. They have a definitive ‘malicious’ pattern and are mostly unregulated. Imagine thousands of page visits originating from a single IP address within a very short span of time. This activity stresses your Web servers, and chokes the available bandwidth. This directly impacts those genuine users on your website, trying to access a product or service.
Bad bots are programmed to perform a variety of malicious jobs. They can be sent by third-party scrapers or your competitors to steal content from your website. The content can be unique to your website or business. Examples of content can be product reviews, fresh breaking news, dynamic pricing information of products listed, product catalog, user generated content on community forms, and so on.
Bots can scrape the content, and publish them elsewhere. This can affect your website’s search engine rankings. There have been instances of stolen content outranking the originals on Google search pages. This directly impacts the bottom-line of the websites that have invested millions of dollars to create original content.
Stealing content is not the only malicious activity these bots are capable of. They can spam community forums with intrusive ads or messages. They can create zillions of fake leads on real-estate and classifieds portals. They can create phantom carts/cart abandonment on eCommerce portals. They can malign marketing analytics by skewing real web traffic to the website, creating inefficient ROI on marketing programs.
With the amount of computing power available today, these bad bots are becoming sophisticated. They’re trying to emulate human-like behavior to remain undetected by conventional or in-house bot detection methodologies. Heck, they can influence political elections.