What is a Botnet?
The word botnet is a combination of robot and net. A botnet is a number of devices connected to the Internet, each of which running one or more bots.
The term is generally used in a negative or malicious context, given the criminal use to which such networks are often put.
A botnet is not a virus in itself, rather a collection of automatically connected devices. If they have been infected with malware, cyber-criminals can take control of them and distribute harmful programs.
Attackers often use botnets to launch DDoS attacks, as well as to send spam, detect passwords or spread ransomware.
Botnets are created when a victim's computer or other device connected to the Internet is infected with a virus. Some of these botnets are able to spread themselves automatically, finding and infecting other devices. Others require users to unwittingly infect their own computer or smartphone by installing an app or program with hidden malware.
In 2016, for example, a massive DDoS attack targeted Dyn, one of the organizations responsible for managing the Internet. This attack used a botnet made up of security cameras and DVRs. The attack brought the Internet to a standstill in many parts of the world, causing problems for popular sites such as Twitter or Amazon.
Bots and IoT
As the Internet of Things continues to expand and the number of Internet-connected devices grows, cyber-crooks find themselves with more opportunities to extend their botnets and have a greater impact. The growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) could lead to increasingly extensive botnets. Although it is likely that this will be reflected in legislative changes, making users responsible for the actions carried out with their devices.
Don't wait any longer. Implement the preventive measures required to protect your identity, your data and your devices.
Botnets are able to infect almost any type of Internet-connected device, either directly or via Wi-Fi. PCs, laptops, smartphones, DVRs, smartwatches, security cameras, smart domestic appliances… Any of these could become the victim of a botnet.
Though it may seem like science fiction to think that your fridge or coffee maker could be part of a criminal network, it is happening more often than people think. Manufacturers of domestic appliances are frequently using weak passwords to protect devices, thereby making them easy prey for the bots that scour the Internet.
How to avoid botnets
By now it should be evident that a global strategy is required to counter botnets, one that includes good practices on the Internet as well as antivirus protection. As you now know how botnets operate, here is some advice about how to deal with them.
- Keep your operating system up-to-date
- Don't open files from unknown or suspicious sources
- Scan all downloads before running the downloaded files, or find different ways of transferring files.
- Don't click suspicious links
- Install an antivirus program