Spam Bot

Article Contents

    A spam bot (or “spambot”) is a program that runs automated tasks over the internet to send out spam messages via email, forum posts and social media. Sending spam in high volumes overloads servers, causing websites to go offline and often prevents legitimate recipients from receiving important messages. Spam bots are created with the intent of making malicious attacks on your website without human interaction, for example by spreading malicious links for unsuspecting users to click on, or even spreading disinformation for political reasons. To make sure you do not become another victim of spam bots, it’s important to understand how they work and what you can do to stop them before they completely take over your business.

    How do spam bots work?

    Spammers create spam bots by writing computer programming code that allows these programs to mimic human behavior to post spam content, such as links to malware or phishing scams, or even politically motivates messages, to be seen and clicked on by intended victims.

    How are bots used for email spam?

    Email spam senders need as many working email addresses as possible – therefore, email address harvesting is required. This is done by bots that scan webpages and look for text that follows the email address format (text + @ + domain) and these are put into a database. Once in this database, these email addresses will be spammed in an attempt to spread malware or steal account credentials via phishing. Sometimes, instead of email harvesting cybercriminals can buy email lists from the dark web.

    What is comment spam?

    Comment spam is spam within user-generated content of any site. This is easily achieved if a site doesn’t have any mode of verification for checking if a commenter is a human user, such as CAPTCHA – however, some bots can bypass this regardless.

    How do spam bots operate on social media?

    Social media spam bots will typically comment on posts, or create posts which outline free items, deals, adult content, or abnormally good offers.

    In addition to this, they may also engage with unrelated social posts. Sometimes bots use an actual user’s profile picture to seem more legitimate.

    Why are spam bots so dangerous

    A single spam bot can send out thousands of messages within seconds and cause an enormous amount of damage on the internet. Spam bots can not only overload your website, but they also prevent you from reaching your audience since spam is often labelled as junk or off-topic. This makes it extremely difficult for any legitimate messages to reach their intended recipients. Spam bots are often used to spread Trojans, spyware and viruses which harm the recipient’s computer once opened.

    How can users tell what is a spam message and what is not?

    There are a few key pointers which indicate if a message is spam or not:

    Frequent spelling and grammar errors

    Many pre-programmed spam bot messages contain numerous spelling and grammar mistakes.

    If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

    Messages offering incredible deals on consumer products, on typically expensive purchases are often from spam bots.

    Spam bots aim to prompt users to take quick actions, similar to phishing attacks. Social media profiles which have been hacked may send aggressive messages demanding quick actions that the person wouldn’t ask for.

    Messages from unexpected sources

    Unexpected emails or social messages from unknown individuals are suspicious and may be a bot.

    Irrelevance

    Spam comments or messages may lack relevance to the conversation as bots typically don’t utilise context before posting.

    Incoherent responses

    Spam chatbots often follow a simple script, therefore if a user’s responses differ from the script, the spam chatbot may continue with scripted replies that don’t make sense in the conversation.

    Frequently asked questions about spam bots

    What damage can spam bots cause?

    Spam bots attempt to con users into clicking malicious links that could harm their computer or even compromise their personal information and financial accounts. They can also seek to sway opinions by spreading a particular agenda widely across the internet, making those views appear more popular.

    How can spam bots be stopped?

    Spam bots are characterized by automated actions not typically seen by regular users posting comments or content on websites or social networks. Bot detection algorithms are best placed to find and stop spam bot attacks as they can pinpoint this behavior and flag their activities for blocking, and the content they post for removal.

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