A bot (derived from robot or web robot) is an automation program that performs or simulates human actions or movements while online. A bot or its application may be benign or malignant.
Benign bots such as chatbots, search-engine bots, and price-crawling bots are commonplace and are used to improve consumers’ online experience. In a benign context, bots perform repetitive or menial tasks that are undesirable or unreasonable to do but are important for optimization or to provide foundational data for benign use cases.
Malignant bots (and the use of bots for malignant purposes) are used to sway facts on social platforms, manage devices, and launch automated attacks such as credential-stuffing, advertising or click fraud, loyalty fraud, SPAM efforts, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), and auction sniping.
“Our PR firm just recommended a great crawling product. It presents all of our news, social, image, and other web mentions. It uses bots that crawl for terms, aggregates them, and presents them in real-time on a dashboard.”