What Are Bot Farms And How Do They Work?

US officials recently identified and took down an artificial intelligence-powered Russian bot farm, whcih consisted of nearly 1,000 accounts and spread disinformation and pro-Russian views on X, Engagdet reports.

The Justice Department revealed that the bot farm was realised by using software, possibly the tool “Meliorator,” capable of creating “authentic appearing social media personas en masse,” and was created by a digital media department within RT, a Russian state-controlled media outlet.

Essentially, bots are automated programs that perform specific tasks online. They are designed to mimic humans and while some of them are useful, such as search engine crawlers, most are dedicated to performing dishonest activities.


What Are Bot Farms?


Bot farms are a network of bots, or automated programs created to perform repetitive tasks at a scale way beyond human capability.

Bot farms are usually controlled by a single entity and can vary in numbers, and can include just a few to even millions of bots, depending on what they are used for and how many resources the operators allocate to the scheme.


What Do Bot Farms Do?


Bot farms perform tasks autonomously and at incredibly fast rates. This can include spreading misinformation, artificially increase website traffic, launch cyber attacks, or automate clicks on ad campaigns.

Bot farms can be used in a variety of ways, and they can be used both legitimately or maliciously. Here are a few common ways bot farms are used:


Bot Farms Can Impede Social Media

Most bot farms operate on social media, creating fake accounts that can react, share, and comment on posts. They do this to manipulate the media by spreading a certain view or drowning out an opposing view. This kind of manipulation tends to fuel marketing campaigns or propaganda, and can harm the reputation of their competition.


Bot Farms Can Launch DDoS Attacks

Bot farms can launch Distributed Denial of Service attacks, which floods a website’s traffic until the site crashes. These attacks are usually performed to paralyse businesses, demand ransoms, or disguise another attack taking place in the background.


Bot Farms Can Commit Click Fraud

Bot farms are also used to generate fraudulent revenue on ad campaigns through mass clicks, which fools businesses into increasing their campaign budgets and distorts the data captured by these campaigns, disabling marketers from seeing accurate progress or making data-driven decisions.


How Can Business Protect Themselves From Bot Farms?


The impact of bot farms on businesses can be costly, and can damage business’s reputation. Luckily, there are measures companies take to identify potential threats and protect themselves from bot farms.


Identify Spikes In Behavioural Patterns

Regularly reviewing user behaviour patterns can help businesses identify any irregularities that may signal a potential bot farm attack. Businesses should block bots as soon as any suspicious behaviour arises. Monitoring these patterns and sources of traffic can help companies discern genuine users from bots.


Implement Cyber Security Measures

Implement cyber security technology or work with a cyber security company so that suspicious activity can be algorithmically detected. Cybersecurity companies can help protect businesses from the devastating effects of cyber attacks and can provide additional security and guidance in the case of bot farm attacks.


Limit Access With Multi-Factor Authentication

Implementing strict authentication methods can protect your business’s accounts from being accessed by unauthorised users. It’s recommended companies use multi-factor authentication and account verification processes to strengthen the platform’s security.


Keep Systems Updated

Software and system updates are often accompanied with security updates, ensuring your company’s digital assets and accounts remain protected.

To conclude, bot farms are essentially an army of automated programs, designed to perform certain tasks autonomously and persistently. Bots can impede social media and spread misinformation, launch cyber attacks and commit click fraud.

Businesses can protect their operations by regularly reviewing behavioural patterns, implementing cyber security measures and, limiting access and keeping their systems updated.