A malicious bot is malware designed to steal information, or infect a host, often used by cyber criminals.
The threat of these automated programs can come in many forms; DDOS, spam, content duplication, etc. Some are designed to strictly scrape information from your website and use it for their benefit (websites with real estate listings often fall victim to this bot).
Others are more malicious and attempt to gain more detailed personal information from you or your visitors. When malicious bots commit fraudulent activities, they can consume between 15%-40% of server capacity and bandwidth. This results in high server cost, more server requirements and higher load on current server infrastructure.
These are three of the more common types of malicious bots:
These bots take the user’s query term (e.g. a popular movie or artist’s album) and respond to the query stating that they have the file available for download, providing a link. The unexpecting user clicks on the link, downloads and opens it, and unknowingly has infected their computer.
These bots flood your inbox with spam and interrupt your chats by sending you unsolicited instant messages. Some aggressive advertisers use these bots to target individuals based on demographic information obtained from the user’s profile. These types of bots are usually easy to spot because they typically just send you a link to click on along with some kind of enticing comment to get you to click.
This refers to a computer that has been compromised, along with hundreds or thousands of other computers, as part of a botnet. These computers are used to coordinate large-scale attacks where all the zombie computers act in unison, carrying out commands sent by the botnet owner. These bots are more difficult to detect and are more stealthy. Quite often, victims of this type of infection don’t even know that their PCs are infected.
So how can you avoid these monsters?
For starters, consider using a second opinion scanner in addition to your existing anti-virus software. A lot of anti-virus programs don’t detect botnet-related software. Malwarebytes is a reputable example of this kind of bot detection software.
Secondly, monitor your logs. Staying proactive and attentive to your website will increase the likelihood that you can take action before any major damage is done. New tools have emerged in the past few years to make this task easier and more user-friendly. These tools enable you to isolate any IP showing aggressive or unusual behaviour. Logstash is an open source tool for collecting, parsing, and storing logs for future use and has grown to become one of the major players in this field.