Botnets are Rising. Essential facts about Botnet malware. How to defend your PC from Botnets.
Some years ago, I observed that my Computer used to endlessly keep processing even when I was not doing anything. To my fault I was not having any antivirus on my connected PC at that time. Later I realised that not only my PC was being used by some malicious network to spread spams and do other hideous acts; my bandwidth also shot to the sky. On some research I realised that, some fraudsters online had hijacked my connected PC and made it a part of their Botnet, or Bot network. In short, instead of investing on a new computer connected to the web, they used some malicious malware to convert my computer into their robot or bot, added it to their network, and used my PC’s resources for their tasks. Not to say I have re-format my computer’s hard drive and install a good genuine antivirus with internet security.
According to ESET, a global pioneer in proactive protection, the Botnet attacks are on an increase. The security maker calls Botnets as 21st century’s most costly security threat.
What is a Botnet ?
The word botnet is made up of two words: bot and net. Bot is short for robot, which runs automatically, net comes from network, a group of PC systems that are linked together. A botnet is a network of infected computers, where the network is used by the malware to spread.
Use of Botnets:
Botnets are used by malicious actors for various purposes, ranging from information theft to sending spam. Various types of people operate botnets like criminals use them to steal banking credentials and commit fraud, pranksters use them to spy on webcams and extort their victims.
Powerful Botnets detected in recent years
Operation Windigo, Stuxnet, Conficker and Flashback – are just a few of the most well-known botnets.
How to find out or Detect a Botnet infection :
The size of the attack is much larger than the 700 domains and nearly 10,000 users have hit these domains and been exposed to the malicious advertisements. This attack finds a victim to run malvertising campaign. The attack is extremely effective and delivers a unique malicious payload for every visitor, packaged with a legitimate media player, and a piece of malware which is tailored to each user. Malicious software is created for all major operating systems. Regrouping infected devices into networks, or botnets, is feasible for every platform.
Risks for home users and businesses:
- The risks associated with botnets are exactly the same as the risks associated with malicious software in general.
- One can have sensitive information stolen from the electronic device, such as intellectual property, blueprints, or passwords giving access to sensitive resources (for example online games).
- Infected computers can also be used to overload servers or send spam.
- It is important to know that once a computer is infected, it really doesn’t belong to its owner anymore; it is operated and used by someone who can be on the other end side of the globe, potentially conducting all kinds of illegal activities.
- The line between corporate and personal devices and networks is very blurry. We all bring personal devices to work and vice-versa, botnets are threat to both types of users.
Effective approach to fighting botnets
1) We can spot infections in network traffic, in the memory of infected computers or on their hard drive.
2) On the other hand, the most effective approach to fighting botnets is education, by raising the awareness around this threat.
3) Everyone should realize that if their computer is infected, it might be used to harm others. Thus, whenever an infected computer is found, it needs to be taken offline and cleaned as quickly as possible.
4) Finally, collaboration between users, research groups, internet service providers and law enforcement agencies greatly helps in fighting botnets and bringing the people who operate them to justice.
5) Strict security and monitoring; identifying and stopping botnet attacks should be easier in Business networks. On the other hand, there is more sensitive data to be stolen from corporate networks.
Installing a Genuine antivirus with Internet security must always be the first step to keep one’s Computer secure.