What Is a Spam Bot? Definition & Defences
A spam bot is a program designed to either enable or deliver spam. If you've received annoying email messages filled with malicious links, you've likely encountered a spam bot. Similarly, if you've seen unusual or fake social media comments, you've dealt with a spam bot too.
How do spam bots work?
There are three types of spam bots, and they each work a bit differently.
Spam bots can:
Harvest. These bots crawl through websites and social media accounts, looking for email addresses. The programmer uses those addresses to send bulk email messages. About 320 billion spam email messages hit inboxes every day. Most originate with spam bots.
Connect. Social media and web-posting accounts originate with simple forms. A spam bot can fill out the required information and begin sharing a note developed by the programmer. Some spam bots use very simple messages (like "Wow") to evade social media screening tools.
- Converse. Some spam bots can hold rudimentary conversations with victims. They respond to simple questions, divulge more information, or otherwise mimic a legitimate talk.
Spam bot programmers typically hope to:
Share. They give information about a new product or discount.
Influence. They share links to a website, hoping to trick Google's algorithms and make the site seem authoritative.
Harm. They share malware or infections.
3 Types of Spam Bots
Let's dig deeper into how spam bots work and how they can harm you. The three different types of spam bots differ mainly by where you may encounter one.
Spam bots can be used on:
Websites. Spam-bot generated notes appear in the comments section of websites. Sophisticated bots can jump through hoops, including completing CAPTCHA challenges. But unprotected sites allow the bots to leave comments that contain links, email addresses, or both.
Social media. Bots create authentic-looking accounts, complete with profile pictures. They can re-share information that appeals to the programmer, and they can respond to other posts with data developed by the programmer. These bots are prolific. Twitter removes 10 accounts per second, and more come up to replace them.
Email. With a long list of verified email addresses, a hacker can send out notes at will. The messages might contain offers, links, or other actions the developer hopes the reader will take.
You've likely encountered at least one of these spam bots today. You've trashed a spam note from your email, you've skimmed over a bogus note on social media, or you've read about a deal in the comments section of a news article.
How to Block a Spam Bot
Successful spam bots are enticing to hackers. As a consumer, you can make them less effective. As a programmer, you can stop them altogether.
Report. Spam notes tend to be unprofessional, pushy, and irrelevant. When you see them, flag them.
Delete. Don't engage with any spam note. Remove it instead.
Educate. Tell everyone you know about the steps you take to combat spam.
Innovate. Use technology like CAPTCHA or one of the alternates we outline on our blog to keep spammy notes away from their sites.
Hide. Don't publish email addresses openly.
Delete. It's tempting to publish spam comments on a blog, especially when the notes seem flattering. Don't fall for it. Remove those notes instead.
You can also use machine learning techniques to differentiate spam and valid content. Find out more about how machine learning works in this blog post.
This Surprisingly Simple Email Trick Will Stop Spam With One Click. (May 2020). Forbes.
What the Hell is Going On in Instagram Comments? (March 2020). Input.
Twitter Is Automatically Removing About 10 Accounts Every Second. (April 2019). Fast Company.
Why Do I Get So Many Spam Comments on My Blog? (October 2012). Juice Marketing.