As phonetically implied, a BOTNET is a network of robots or interconnected computers. Each device in this hierarchy is responsible for managing its own set of bots, or collections of software and automated scripts. At the top of this chain of command is the bot herder, who pulls the strings and usually has a deep understanding of hacker culture.
Botnets, in general, are frequently used for malicious purposes. The goal of such a topology is to compromise other devices while obfuscating, or decentralizing, the actual location of the bot herder. Other nefarious activities are also possible, like the harnessing of external computing power to assist with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on networks and websites. Once a botnet gains control, nothing is off limits. The entire architecture of a computer is at its disposal.
Various Implementations of Botnets
Not only can a botnet shut down a website or application in near real-time, but it can also use email addresses stored on the same computer to mass distribute spam. It can generate fake Internet traffic to third-party websites (which is usually sold for a monetary profit). And it can replace content in any web browser, including contextual advertisements.
Like rogue ware, a botnet may also use fraudulent advertisements in the form of pop-up windows to dupe users out of money. Here, the user is scared into paying for an expensive (and non-existent) anti-spyware package to rid their computer of security issues. The paradox, however, is that the botnet, itself, is responsible for these security issues.
Although the impact and reach of a botnet may sound intimidating, it is really no more powerful than any random computer virus. It uses the likes of Trojans, worms and other exploits to reach its malicious goals. Generally, users remain unaware when their device becomes compromised by a botnet. But with a few simple precautions, you can easily remove them and continue to enjoy a safe Internet experience.
The following points can help you avoid the handiwork of malicious botnets:
A reputable Internet security suite. This is necessary for detecting malware that has been installed on your device, as well as for removing it. A good product will even ensure that a threat never resurfaces. It is therefore important to determine the right security product for your unique situation.
An up-to-date operating system. It is your responsibility to keep the most important software asset on your device modern and safe. Often, old and unpatched operating systems have flaws that hackers can use to breach the security on your device. The best way to keep your operating system current is to set your updates to install automatically.
You should think before clicking. Additionally, you should never download attachments or click on links from email addresses that you fail to recognize. These are the most common ways that threats are introduced into a system.
You should use a firewall. These days, browsing the Internet requires an immediate barrier of security. Mobile and stationary devices alike are better off with preinstalled firewalls. But should you discover one is not available to you, you should not delay in obtaining one for your device’s protection.
Refrain from visiting malicious websites. If you are aware of any questionable websites or domains online, you should hesitate visiting them. Such Internet properties are known for distributing malware, and are even monitored by most Internet security suites. Use commonsense and heed the advice of the security measures you have in place.
If talks of automation through artificial intelligence makes you uneasy, just imagine a network of even smarter robots and what it entails. We are (hopefully) years away from what is predicted in the pages of Martin Ford’s Rise of the Robots novel, but this does not mean our world is incapable of foreshadowing what lies ahead. The aforementioned points are just a few precautions that will help protect your device from botnet attacks. Mounting these basic defenses will keep your Internet browsing experience safe for years to come.