At a Glance – Botnets

We hear the term Botnet more and more often, but what are they?

Botnets are robot networks that are created by infecting private computers with malware. Once a computer has been successfully infiltrated, it becomes a bot (also known as a zombie) and joins a network of other hijacked devices. The bot sends malicious transmissions to other computers on the internet, adding bots to the network. The owners of the zombie computers are usually unaware of the attack, which makes them even harder to detect.

Cybercriminals can use botnets for numerous purposes, including Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks which can shut down rival sites and damage competitors. They can also be used to access data, send spam and generally expose the vulnerabilities of the device. Another possible motive is monetary. Cybercriminals can create a botnet to get hold of financial data themselves, od they can rent or sell the network to other criminals. Botnets have been around for years, but their scope and severity is getting exponentially worse. In the first half of 2006, the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report stated that there were over four and a half thousand infected botnet computers. The most recent recorded botnet was Mirai, which recruited 380,000 bots (including routers and digital cameras) last year.

Botnets are considered to be one of the biggest threats to the Internet, and they are growing in strength. This is due to the wider availability of home computers and devices, enabled by increased connectivity. In order to protect computers against assimilation into a zombie army, owners can install effective anti-malware software and real time firewall security settings. With an estimated 8.4 billion connected things forecasted this year, unprotected devices will certainly be taken advantage of.

Take a look at this video from ESET for more info on botnets: