Bots, or robots, serve a command computer, carrying out automated functions at their master’s bidding. Common bot crimes include denial-of-service, extortion, identity theft, spam, and fraud. Multiple infected computers together form a botnet, with each individual computer also termed a zombie. Bots perform simple, repetitive tasks at a much faster rate than a human, and there are different types of bot. A chatterbot is a bot that simulates conversation with one or more humans, usually to fool the person into thinking that they are talking to another human. An effective chatterbot must pass the Turing test, which tests to see if humans can tell that they are conversing with a program or a live person. Spambots collect e-mail addresses from web pages found on the internet in order to compile mailing lists for unsolicited e-mail.
Bots aren’t only used for malicious intent; they are also used by search engines to crawl the web. Web servers often have a file called robots.txt, which dictates specific rules for the crawler bots that they are supposed to obey. Bots can be used in many different applications where a response speed is needed to be faster than a human’s. Bots can also be used to block spam and are known then as e-mail blockers or filters.