IMAGINE this scenario—
On one fine day, you find that your computer is not following your commands. Even worse, it has locked you out of folders containing sensitive information. Or what if you find that it is being used for carrying out cybercrimes like phishing? This is how a botnet can take down your computer. For secure and faster recovery of your files and credentials you need to get in touch with Best it support services provider.
What is a botnet?
The word botnet is derived from two terms—robot and network.
It means that a botnet is a network of infected computers.
A botnet is injected into your computer through malware that is usually sent via malicious emails or pop-up ads.
A person who creates and controls the bots is called a bot herder.
Once being taken down by a botnet attack, your computer starts accepting the commands under the remote control of a bot herder.
There is a central point from where the attacker can command every system on its botnet network to carry out a criminal act. Infected machines constantly receive updates and act accordingly on the fly.
This is just like a zombie attack in which zombies are on the spree to infect maximum people to enlarge their numbers. Or you can say that your computers are “possessed” in this form of cyber-attack.
In fact, both bot and zombie terms refer to the “automatic” implementation of something malicious (malware in this case) by agents that are possessed in some way.
Your infected computer can be used to execute a range of cybercrimes such as DDoS, phishing, or generating fake internet traffic.
How does Botnet work?
By this point, you must have understood that a botnet is a network of infected computers.
Here we will understand how botnet works. How botnet attacks are executed?
A bot herder creates a piece of malware to be launched through emails or pop-up ads. Once their malware gets into your computer, they can remotely and secretly control a “victim” computer. From there, they can expand this attack to hundreds, thousands, or even millions of computers as the infected computer starts interacting with others.
There are many ways a bot herder can introduce botnet malware into your systems such as…
- An email attachment that seems to be from a known or unknown sender. Downloading it can trigger the malware installation.
- A pop-up ad warning that your system has a virus. Clicking on the ad to resolve the problem can download and install the malware.
- An unauthorized software download site.
The botnet malware generally targets vulnerable devices across the Internet, rather than looking for specific individuals, industries, or businesses. The aim of launching a botnet is to infect as many connected systems as possible and to use them for automated attacks.
Botnets are designed when a threat actor sends the bot from their command and control servers to a random recipient using file sharing, email or social media application, or other bots. Once the recipient responds to the infected file on their system or computer, the bot informs the command and control server where the threat actor can run commands to control infected computers.
Botnet attacks are usually carried out through malware. Botnet malware is generally designed to automatically scan systems and devices for vulnerabilities that are often overlooked.
Bots are often updated to outwit the prevention measures adapted by the target systems. They can use other infected systems on the network as communication channels so that a bots operator can have endless communication paths to change the line of attack and deliver updates.
However, infecting the computers is always the topmost priority for a threat actor, as functionality or communication can be changed later on as required.
Once the required number of systems is infected, a threat actor can control the bots using two different methods.
One of them is a traditional client-server method.
This method involves creating a command and control server and sending automated commands to infected botnet clients using communications protocol such as Internet Relay Chat.
The bots are often designed to remain hidden and wait for commands from the C and C server before launching any attack.
The other method is to control infected bots with a peer-to-peer network. Instead of utilizing C and C servers, a peer-to-peer or P2p botnet uses a “spread out” approach.
Infected devices can scan for malicious websites or even for other systems in the same network or botnet. These bots then can provide updated commands or the latest versions of botnet malware.
The peer-to-peer network or P2P is more preferred by cybercriminals as it helps them avoid the detection by cybersecurity companies and law enforcement agencies, which have sophisticated equipment in place to detect and monitor the attacks through C and C communications.
Popular Botnet Attacks
It was 2007 when malware named Cutwail attacked over 2 million systems and was sending 74 billion spam emails per day. It even outwitted eminent law enforcement agencies like the FBI and Europol. It is said to remain active even today.
In 2008, the Mariposa botnet hijacked over 12 million computers around the world in 2 years duration. It hit computers in over 190 nations through many methods, such as messages, HDD, file sharing, and more. The botnet also utilized malvertising, meaning that it used digital ads to spread the malware.
Launched in 2016, Methbot is said to the biggest ever malware. It obtained thousands of IP addresses with US-based ISPs. The threat actors first launched over 6,000 domains and 250,267 URLs that posed to be from premium publishers, such as Vogue and ESPN. Afterward, video ads from scammers were published on these websites which delivered their bots “watch” around 30 million ads daily.
The year 2016 also witnessed the launch of Mirai that infected digital smart devices being operated on ARC processors and turned into a botnet, which was often utilized to launch DDoS attacks. Mirai is said to infect more than 6 million devices to date.
How to Protect Your Computers from Botnet Attack?
Once a botnet enters your systems, it can lead to a DDoS attack, which can impact your website. At the same time, botnet attacks can seize entire email threads in spam campaigns for later reuse and of course, a rise in spam activity will affect your network.
Over the years, preventing botnets has become a never-ending task. Even though there are many tools out there to prevent the attack, not all users are familiar with them or don’t have sufficient technical expertise to use them.
Keeping this in mind, here I am sharing some simple preventative measures to reduce the risk of a botnet attack. And you don’t need to be tech experts to imply these security measures. Below are the key ones you should practice.
Perform Regular Antivirus Scans:
This is the most efficient way to prevent malware that is the key trigger of a botnet attack. Make sure to have a reputable antivirus brand installed on your computers.
Avoid Downloading from Unknown Emails Senders:
Given that botnets attacks are also launched through emails, make sure to avoid the mails from unknown senders. If you still open the messages, don’t open any attachments until you know the sender. You should also beware of unexpected attachments even from known senders, as their PC could be infected by a botnet and they could be innocently spreading the malware.
Botnet Trojans are not easy to identify. They are often posed as important documents such as a bill, invoices, and receipts. If you don’t have any idea why they have been sent to you, don’t download them.
Keep Your Software and Operating System Updated:
The world of malware is dynamic as new viruses are launched every single day, making it challenging for antivirus tools to pace up with.
Most software vendors and OS offer frequent patches and updates to address the loopholes. Make sure to turn on regular software updates.
Don’t Visit Untrustworthy Websites and Ads:
Bot masters trick users into downloading malware using lucrative ads or downloads.
Therefore, don’t ask for trouble by installing free versions of software from untrustworthy websites, and don’t click on pop-up ads that claim to give iPhones or prizes. Responding to these pages can trigger malware installed on your PC.
Apart from safe browsing and download practices, make sure to have a good antivirus, keep it updated, and perform regular scans. It can remove botnet malware from your PC and block any future infections.
The Bottom Line:
Botnet attacks are one of the deadliest cybersecurity attacks and for the best Cybersecurity Tips you need to visit our blog section. The botnet operators exploit the vulnerabilities of systems. Apart from infecting other devices, botnet attacks can send spam messages such as phishing emails to steal a password, distribute fake advertisements and launch a DDos attack being the major one.
Prevention is the best cure when it comes to dealing with such attacks. This is because it is often tricky to monitor botnets once they get into your system. That’s why always practice cybersecurity such as avoid downloading malicious mails, clicking unauthorized sites as well responding to lucrative ads to stay safe.
To find out more about which botnet attack protection solution is most appropriate for you and your enterprise, contact Apixel it services today.
What do you think? Let me know by commenting below!