Photo by Don Solo (via Flickr)

Legend has it that a lone Greek soldier named Sinon was intentionally left behind during the Trojan War to deliver a message.

That message was to present a gift of a giant battering ram in the shape of a horse to the Trojan Army as an offering of peace to their goddess of war, Athena. The Trojans loved the peace offering so much they marched the wooden horse right inside their gates. And then they quickly learned the lesson of something simply being too good to be true.

Trojan horse invasions are far more prominent today. In fact, if you use a computer or smartphone today, chances are you’ve already been a victim of their attacks.

Remember that one email you opened offering a free $25 Starbucks gift card? Or that ad you clicked on Facebook offering a discounted Louis Vuitton bags? That’s how they got into your gates. Now they own your computer or smartphone and will use it in just about any way imaginable.

It’s a scary realization, but you probably would never notice a bot sitting right there in your hard drive. These bots are programmed to attack when you’re asleep at night, and by the time you’re back online, they’re already tucked back inside their silicon hiding holes preparing for tomorrow night’s battles.

The most ambitious “black hat” hackers who generate these bad bots often control immense networks of digital devices infected with their malware to create carefully orchestrated waves of fake programmed traffic to a website, a la Season 3 of “Silicon Valley”. Or something slightly more complicated like buying up all the tickets to the Beyoncé concert in milliseconds.

These automated browser networks of infected devices, or “Bot Nets,” are also known to be one of the most common sources of digital advertising fraud. But not all bots are born from evil intentions.

A number of bot programs being utilized today were originally engineered by web developers to assist them in quickly fixing issues with websites they routinely manage for legitimate purposes. For instance, spider programs were originally written to quickly scan websites and follow hyperlinks to check for broken links or map out all of the pages contained on a site.

But this type of bot can also easily be repurposed for villainous reasons. Like scanning websites for ads and driving up highly valued click rates, which results in costing advertisers billions of dollars in wasted annual investments.

Source: WhiteOps 2015 Bot Baseline Report

Source: Interactive Advertising Bureau