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What is a Spambot?

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  • Written By: H. Bliss
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2016
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    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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A spambot is a software program used to assist in spamming. On the Internet, spam is any kind of automated unwanted message. Spam is most often used to advertise, but can also be used to harass users or interrupt service. A spambot program be used to gather email addresses for spamming, to send spam, or to post spam on a messageboard. Less frequently, a spambot can also refer to a program that filters spam.

Though most people get spam by email, spambots also send or post unwanted messages in chat rooms, on forums or in text message inboxes on mobile phones. Mobile phone users are particularly plagued by short message service (SMS) spambots because many users have mobile plans that charge them for receiving those text messages. In some instances, spambots can be a threat to account security. A maliciously used spambot can distribute phishing messages or virus-laden code that can infect computers and breach the security of data contained on them.

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Phishing is an email message sent with the intent of acquiring secret information like the user's login or financial information. These types of messages usually masquerade as a legitimate message with whom the person might already do business. Phishing spambot messages are designed to believably mimic messages from a real company to trick the user into inputting sensitive user information. The consequences of falling for a phishing attack can be severe and may include theft of money from any financial resources connected to the phished account.

Means of dealing with the handiwork of spambots include spam fighting programs, message blocking features, and user blocking features. Spam-blocking programs are automatically implemented by most email service providers. By automatically blocking messages sent by spambots, an email provider can protect users from a host of viruses and phishing attempts that can place the user's sensitive information at risk.

A bot is a program that performs tasks automatically, and is often used online. Though bots are often used to facilitate spam, a good bot can also help users perform tasks like downloading files and accessing customer service guides. Some bots are designed to respond conversationally to text chat entered by a human user. This type of beneficial bot is commonly used to answer simple customer service questions posed by users on a website. By providing a bot that answers frequently asked questions, a company can lower labor costs from customer service calls and prevent the loss of sales due to customer confusion.

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