Bots, those software programs that automate web activity, accounted for 56% of Internet traffic in 2014, according to content delivery platform Incapsula. (This was actually down from 61.5% of traffic in 2013.)
Though you might not notice them, bots are everywhere online—and used for both good and evil. Here are the main types of bots you’ll run across:
- Search engine crawlers index websites so humans can easily find them. They’re harmless.
- RSS bots, also benign, check for and pull in updates from news sites and blogs. (These have been in decline since Google shut down its Reader service in July of 2013.)
- Scrapers scour the web to steal and duplicate content. This is why you might see articles from respectable news organizations on sketchy sites you’ve never heard of. They can also find email addresses on the web and sell them to spammers, another type of bot that distributes malware and phishing links.
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