What Is A Botnet And How Does It Work?

Botnet concept art

Written by: Jay H.

Botnets are an extensive network of PCs infected with malware controlled remotely by an attacker, known as the “bot-herder.” Think of a robot army under the control of its master. Each machine under the control of the bot-herder is known as a bot. From the attacker’s centralized position, they can easily command every computer in the botnet to attack simultaneously. Depending on the botnet’s size, anywhere from thousands to millions of bots can conduct these attacks.

How Do Botnets Work?

Before hackers can execute their attacks, they first need to build their botnet army. To develop their botnet, attackers must exploit a vulnerability to gain access to a victim’s device. Malicious actors usually accomplish this through vulnerabilities in software or websites or trick victims into installing malware on their devices. Once your device becomes infected, your computer, phone, or tablet is now under the control of the botnet’s creator.

Once the botnet’s owner is in control of your device, they usually use your machine to carry out malicious actions. Common tasks carried out by botnets include:

  • Sending out masses of email spam, often including malware, to millions of users.
  • Orchestrating distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks to take websites down by flooding them with traffic.
  • Reading and stealing the victims’ personal data.

How To Protect Yourself From Botnets

Like most malware, the best way to protect yourself from botnets is by practicing good online hygiene. Among proper measures to follow include:

  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links and downloads.
  • Install a reputable antivirus such as Malwarebytes.
  • Always update your device’s operating system and applications when the manufacturer issues an update.
  • Use a firewall when browsing the Internet.
  • Work alongside a trusted managed IT service provider such as Design2Web IT to protect your business from cyberthreats.

Generally, attackers look to pick the “lowest-hanging fruit.” If you practice proper digital hygiene, you will be that much safer from attacks. Contact us today if you would like more information on keeping your business safe from cyber threats.

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