Computers being part of botnets

A botnet is a number of Internet-connected workstations that communicate with each other, with the purpose to complete repetitive tasks and objectives. Botnets are mostly used for implementing DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks against targeted websites or organizations.

If you neglect to regularly patch your system with the latest operating system and application updates then it is vulnerable to cyber-attacks and could end up to be part of a botnet and you’d know nothing about it.

But which are the exact actions that can be performed using a botnet? The attacker would launch a DDoS attack against a website, so an enormous amount of access requests will be simultaneously sent to that site, causing it to halt or completely shut down thus failing to serve the legitimate site visitors.

Favorable targets for DDoS attacks are banks and government websites but small or medium businesses are also targeted. Especially the smaller businesses find it easier to just pay off the attacker and have their website’s operation restored than having to involve the police or even paying an amount of money for increasing their website’s security.

One of the world’s largest botnets –ZeroAccess- controlled over two million active systems. Microsoft, leading an organized coalition, aimed to disable this botnet and proceeded by taking down the servers responsible for controlling the robot slaves. It also detected and blocked the IP addresses used to control those servers but also took over around 50 domains being used by the criminal organization controlling the ZeroAccess botnet.

The people leading the movements against botnets mostly belong to large security companies. Some of the companies that have been involved in the fight are FireEye, Fortinet and a coalition that goes by the name SpamHaus.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) get info from security companies about the servers occupied by criminals and they block access to them, since no ISP would want to have the bad reputation of allowing access to criminal servers through their network.

Final notes

All this information provided above is to inform you about the criminal activity that can be done using botnets so you can understand why it is important that everyone takes the necessary measures for keeping the personal and work machines protected and secured. You need to install basic security tools like antivirus, antispyware, firewall and other intrusion prevention apps and always make sure that your system is up to date with the latest security updates for the operating system and for any applications that may be installed on it.

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