A BOTNET TOPOLOGY can be loosely defined as a network which brings order to botnets, or, machines which have been compromised with a virus or Trojan horse. These networks are controlled by either a command and control (C&C) server, or a decentralized mechanism which relies on peer-to-peer (P2P) communication.
In some ways, botnet topologies are similar to standard network topologies, except that they are typically restricted two just a few categories. One of the better known types is the Star—an arrangement found in most homes and small offices where each computer or device connects to a centralized router or modem. The Star botnet topology means that the network relies on a centralized server.
This arrangement is extended with the Multi-Server and Hierarchical topologies, where the former utilizes redundancy, or multiple command and control servers to compensate for the possible failure of any one. In the Hierarchical arrangement, the servers are spread across different tiers. This offers a number of benefits, including (1) dependability, as it obfuscates the detection of botnets, and (2) profitability through monetizing unused machines.
The last category, Random (also known as “peer-to-peer”) is distinct in that it does not make use of a centralized server. Each node communicates directly with one another, sometimes employing encryption for added security. In this arrangement, the machines become known as peer-to-peer (P2P) botnets.
A Botnet Topology in Use
Whatever botnet topology a hacker decides to implement, it’s likely not for good causes and could threaten the very sanctity of the Internet we’ve come to rely on. Hackers leverage each of these topologies for a variety of exploits, including distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, spam relays that go untraced, and the mass dissemination of malware.
In fact, the majority of spam and phishing attacks levied against users are often issued from a myriad of botnets. The task of identifying the source of such attacks becomes difficult given the layers between the machines and the ones who pulled it off. Even malware is unleashed from multiple locations, giving little response time for users to organize countermeasures. The most devastating of these is the DDoS attack, which may camouflage itself as an array of legitimate requests that will eventually bring all traffic to a grinding stop.
The effective use of firewalls and VPNs can help in warding off botnets and other threats. You should also scan your device regularly for vulnerabilities and keep yourself up to speed with the measures required to navigate the Internet safely. When security breaches do occur, you need to be able to apply patches and take other appropriate actions in a timely manner. The best way to accomplish this is by clarifying duties beforehand. When faced with a DDoS attack originating from some distant bot topology, you will be better positioned to filter traffic, switch address blocks, and remotely access machines to redirect incoming data.
In the end, it is incumbent upon security managers and network administrators (or you, if you operate and manage your own network of devices) to be able to detect and respond to incidents stemming from botnets. Both human and automated resources should be deployed to check for anomalies. The only way to prevent your own devices from becoming nodes in a botnet topology is to be ever vigilant.