Botnets: Everything You Need to Know
In today’s world, cyber crimes are one of the biggest problems we are facing. Botnets are one of them. You might wonder how it’s possible.
In this article, I will talk about botnet attacks, their examples, and symptoms, how to remove a botnet from your system, and how to protect yourself from potential botnet attacks.
Let’s dive in.
What are Botnets?
Bot: A bot is a computer that has been compromised through a malware infection and can be controlled remotely by a cybercriminal. The cybercriminals that controls these bots, are known as bot herders.
Botnet: A botnet is a group or network of multiple (can be hundreds or even thousands) bots. The bot herder can carry out a botnet attack by synchronously commanding these bots. And the main thing here is that the owner of these infected systems (bots) does not know about this.
The bot herder can do anything he wants on these bots. The botnet is often known as a bot army. The bot herder sometimes rents out his bot army to make money. These botnets can execute cyber-attacks such as DoS, DDoS, etc.
Botnet attacks Example
The botnet is known as Methbot. A Russian cybercriminal named Aleksandr Zhukov is the mastermind behind this massive cyber attack.
He acquired thousands of IP addresses from two internet registries and linked them with internet service providers (ISPs) in the US. Then, he created around 6k domains out of them.
He contacted some advertisers to bid on the websites associated with these domains. After getting ads from them, he sent his bots to go and watch those ads. The websites get around 250 to 300 million views per day using the bots. Human (formerly White Ops) busted this botnet. The total damage to the US advertisers is estimated to be around $7 million.
Symptoms: A botnet may have infected your system
It is not easy to spot a botnet on your system. Some of the symptoms are the following:-
Unable to update
An antivirus or windows defender protects you from malware or viruses. Windows update also includes patches for ongoing malware in the market. The attacker designs the malware to block windows updates or antivirus updates. If you are unable to update your windows or antivirus, there are chances that you are also one of the bots for the bot herder.
Loud fan noise
If your computer is idle(you are not consuming any of its resources) and your fan is making a lot of noise. You should check the software using your resources in the background. If none of your software is using resources, there are chances that someone else (might be a botnet) is using your resources.
Slow working system
If your system is working very slowly, there are two possible reasons for this behavior. One is that your system is quite old and needs some updation (Ram or SSD upgrade). The second reason could be that your system is in the control of a bot herder, and he is using it in a cyber attack.
Sluggish shutdown speed
There are many possible reasons for the slow shutdown speeds of your computer. One reason may be that your hard drive is filling up, resulting in slower shutdown speeds. Another reason is that botnet malware prevents your system from shutdown to use for the work given by the bot herder.
Email that you never sent
If your email contacts are receiving emails from your email account but not sent by you. Botnet malware may be controlling your system and sending malware attached to the emails to your contacts. It helps a bot herder to increase the number of bots (malware-infected devices) in a botnet. It will increase the effectiveness of a cyber attack (DoS, DDoS, Phishing, etc.) by the botnet.
The slow internet speeds of your system have many possible reasons. It might be possible that your ISP is facing some issues. Another reason may be that your software uses the internet in the background. And the last possible reason is your system is participating in a cyber attack (such as a DDoS attack, which includes thousands of infected systems bombarding a server or a website with network requests to shut it down).
How do you remove the botnet from your system?
If you see any of the above symptoms in your system, follow the guidelines below. The guidelines you should follow are the following:-
- Immediately cut off the connection with the botnet (the malware uses your internet connection to connect your system to the botnet).
- If you are using the internet through Wi-Fi, turn off your Wi-Fi immediately. If you are unable (due to the malware), immediately turn off your Wi-Fi router.
- If you use the internet through a LAN port, immediately plug out your ethernet cable.
- Contact law enforcement agencies and inform them about the botnet.
- Contact a technician and ask him to install a clean operating system. You can also do this on your own.
How can you protect your computer from botnet infections?
If you don’t want to put yourself in the above situations, you should follow some steps to prevent yourself from these attacks. Some of the main steps are the following:-
- You should update your operating system and antivirus regularly. It helps your system identify trending malware by a roll out a patch in the updates.
- Malware is the root cause of botnets in most cases. The carrier of malware is unknown emails and websites hosting pirated content.
- Good antivirus software helps you to identify this malware before it could affect you. Some of the good options available in the market are – Mcafee, Norton security, Kaspersky, Quick Heal, etc.
- Set up your windows firewall to always be on. A firewall can notify you if malware is trying to connect your system elsewhere.
- Always use strong passwords for your system and all your software and websites. A strong password is hard to crack and takes more time to decrypt.
- Set up your browser’s ad blocker to always be on. Because attackers can attach malware with google ads or a pop-up message, the better alternative to it is to use an ad-free browser such as the brave browser.
Botnet attack could result in a disastrous situation if you do not identify it on time. It is one of the top trending cyber attacks in today’s time.
I hope you learned about the botnet, its symptoms, and how to protect your system from becoming a part of a botnet.
What does a botnet attack do?
It will infect your system, and your system will become part of a botnet (group of bots).
How does a botnet attack work?
It starts by injecting malware into your system and connecting it to the botnet.
What is the process of a botnet attack?
The bot herder commands his botnet army to attack an Individual or an organization. For example, the botnets could execute a DDoS attack on a website by bombarding it with heavy traffic (surpassing the set limits of the server). It will eventually shut down the website, resulting in the loss of customer data and reputation.
What is the role of botnets in criminal activities?
Bot herders use botnets to make money through it. There are various ways to make money through them. One is by a DDoS attack and asking for ransom from the victim or renting the botnet army.
How do botnets contribute to criminal activity?
Botnet contributes by helping attackers (bot herder in case of a botnet) to execute cyber-attacks using the botnet (such as DDoS attack).
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