Q:
Can you please explain to me what a bot is?

A:
The word bot comes from the word robot, meaning work. A bot can be described as automated software that sends out commands when it receives a specific type of input. Bots are often found in chat rooms and through advertisements on Web sites. For example, if you’re ever in a chat room and automatically get kicked out because of a violation, the bot is what actually removed you from the area. A bot is also partly responsible for some of those banner ads you always see going across your computer screen.

There are also Web searching bots, which are also known as spiders and crawlers. They crawl around the Internet searching for HTML documents and record the information they found. Later on, they create catalogs from the information they generated from the Web sites they “spidered.” The information that is found is then used for the search engine results that you get on Google or Yahoo!

Although, from the above mentioned situations, bots may seem like they’re not too bad,. They seem like they can help you out in some ways (removing violators from chat rooms and creating search catalogs), but bots really aren’t your friend. Bots are also known as “zombies” or “drones.” They are part of the malware family; the part that allows an attacker to gain complete control over an infected computer. They also work closely with worms or Trojans to control your PC. So, if your computer has been victimized by any sort of infection, the bot is able to take over and, in a way, “zombie” your PC. So, if you notice your computer is running slower or it suddenly crashes, keep bots in mind as a possible reason. You’ll just want to run your antivirus and spyware protectors immediately.

If your protective software happens to find a bot on your system, it may come under the names of AttackBot, SubSeven, EvilBot or SlackBot. These are types of bots that consist of a single binary. Others use one or more binaries, as well as, attacking open source script files that you may have on your computer. These are commonly known as GT Bots, with GT standing for global threat. Some bots are also created to generate clones.

To make sure you can stay safe from any threats that bots hand out, make sure your antivirus software and any other protection software you may use is up to date. Also, be sure to run scans of those often.

~ Erin