The use of botnets is a relatively new phenomenon. Their usage in attacks for the last ten years has resulted in costly damages for the victims. Therefore, there is a lot of effort put in protecting against botnet malware, or shutting them down altogether wherever possible.
Ivan Konovalov, the Semalt expert, explains that the word botnet consists of two words: Bot, which refers to a virus-infected computer, and Net which is a series of networks linked together. It is impossible for the people that develop and control malware to operate the computers they hack into manually. They, therefore, result to using botnets which do so automatically. The malware uses the network to spread to other computers.
When your computer becomes infected with malware and becomes part of a botnet, the one controlling it can perform background processes remotely. These activities may not be visible to people using a lower internet bandwidth. An anti-malware product is the best way to detect the presence of malware. Alternatively, tech-savvy users can look at the programs currently running or installed on the system.
A botnet is the work of a person with malicious intent. They have several uses such as sending spam and stealing information. The greater the number of “bots” in one’s possession is, the more significant the damage they can cause. For example, organized criminal gangs use botnets to steal financial information to commit fraud, or to spy on unsuspecting users and use the illegally obtained information to extort them.
The command and control server acts as the primary entry point from which other computers connect to the network. For most botnets, if the command and control server shuts down, the entire botnet collapses. There are certain exceptions to this, however. The first is where botnets use peer-to-peer communications and do not have a command and control server. The second is the botnets that have more than one command and control servers located in different countries. It is harder to block bots fitting this description.
The same risks that people fear from malware programs also apply to botnets. The most common attacks are to steal sensitive information, overload website servers with the intention of bringing them down or send spam. An infected computer that is part of a botnet does not belong to the owner. The attacker remotely runs it and mostly for illegal activities.
Botnets are a threat to both corporate and personal devices. Nevertheless, corporate devices have better security and monitoring protocols. It goes without saying that they have more sensitive data to protect.
No particular group is more vulnerable than the other. The malware used can take different forms depending on the intended target group.
Conficker is the biggest botnet currently on record as it was known to infect computers very quickly. However, the developers never got to use it due to the increased attention and scrutiny it attracted from the research community. Others include Storm and TDSS.
ESET recently discovered a botnet in their investigation into Operation Windigo. It had infected over 25,000 servers. Its purpose was to redirect malicious content to users’ computers, steal their credentials, and send spam messages to contacts on that computers.
No single operating system is safe from attacks by malicious software. The people using Mac devices are quite familiar with the Flashback malware.
Preventing Against Botnets
- An anti-malware program is a place to start when combating botnets. Identifying possible malware in the network traffic is easy.
- Raise awareness and educate people concerning the threat. People need to realize that infected computers pose a threat to themselves and others.
- Take all infected computers offline and conduct thorough checks on the drives to make sure they are clean.
- A collaborative effort from the users, researchers, ISPs, and the authorities.