Derive from a shortened form of the English word “robot,” “Bot” refers to the IT version of a robot: A computer program that automatically and independently performs certain tasks.

What does the term “bot” mean in detail?

  • Bots are versatile. The bots that independently visit and evaluate websites for search engines are very well known. Other bots answer customer questions, control content in forums and chats or replace human game partners in computer games.
  • Bots are also used by cyber criminals. For example, they can be programmed to automatically send spam e-mails, find server vulnerabilities, or launch denial of service attacks. Such bots contain malicious software (malware).
  • Malware bots can reach your computer or corporate network, including through email attachments, downloads, and security holes. After that, cyber criminals can spy on your business or take advantage of your IT resources, such as for sending spam.
  • Cyber criminals can network bots on different computers. Then a botnet emerges that can be used by cyber criminals or even leased out.
  • A special category is “Social Bots.” They are used on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, to influence political opinion, for example.

Where do I run into bots in my daily work?

Indirectly, you encounter bots every time you use a search engine, because many results come from bots. Malware bots can come in the form of suspicious email attachments or dubious downloads. If you already have a bot on your computer, you probably won’t notice it. Even if it’s part of a botnet and uses your Internet connection, this is usually inconspicuous, due to the high connection speeds.

What can I do to protect myself from bots?

Many measures to reduce cyber risks protect you and your company from bots. These especially include:

  • Critical handling of emails and enclosed links and attachments
  • Critical handling of downloads
  • A firewall that monitors outgoing traffic
  • Keep operating systems and all software up-to-date via updates
  • Check the system regularly with current virus scanners

Additional Information
Closely related to this topic is the entry “Botnets,” also in this glossary.

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