What is a botmaster?

If you turned today to a simple Google search for “botmaster” you might find three answers:

  • A bot author or creator - someone who programs with AIML or on Pandorabots (results 1, 2)
  • An individual who is responsible for and/or maintains a bot - as per a computer jargon dictionary (result 3)
  • A computer criminal and felon; a hacker skilled in “bot” attacks; a “dirtbag” - news sources the Washington Post and Reuters via Slashdot, ZDnet, O’Reilly etc. (results 4, 5, 6)

Did any of those surprise you?

The term “botmaster” is taking on a specific significance quite different from both its general meaning and its usage within the tiny community of intelligent agent designers. News sources are changing that meaning in the public imagination, inspired in part by the recent conviction of a member of the self-named “Botmaster Underground,” and in part by the increasing circulation of the term “botnet,” meaning “network of computers compromised by scripted viruses.” For an example, see Invasion of the Computer Snatchers (Brian Krebs. Washington Post. 2006-02-19).

If a botnet is a network of infected computers, and if a botmaster is a hacker who controls the infection, then…

…what is a bot?

2 Responses to “Botmaster term in flux”

  1. 1 Killer Content

    The bots are the infection itself.

  2. 2 Mark Marino

    Wow. It’s a verbal epidemic.

    Here is another, related, definition from here :

    A ‘botmaster’ is another programme that is controlled by someone that issues commands on those IRC cannels which the bots residing on the systems execute. A trend of the last few years is that huge ‘botnets’ are being built, and even being hired, in website affiliate programmes that pay out money for each visitor or even in distortion schemes aimed at commercial companies.

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