Everything You Want to Know About a Botnet Attack

It is no secret that botnet attack have become significant security threats but what are they, exactly?

What is a Botnet Attack?

A botnet attack is performed by hackers using a collection of malware-infected devices, often termed as “zombies,” which are being controlled by the attackers. We often think of servers and computers being used in such an attack but increasingly, IoT devices like cameras, thermostats and more can help form botnet clusters.

Threat actors gain access to a device by using particular viruses to weaken the computer’s security system before executing “command and control software” to let them conduct their malicious activities on a large scale.

These activities can be automated to carry out countless simultaneous attacks, paralyzing infected devices for ransom or damage while also disguising their identity via the vast botnet network.

A botnet is used in many cybercrimes such as exploiting and making a financial gain, malware propagation, or just general disturbance of the Internet.

Botnet attacks are launched in many ways, including:

  • Spam Emails

The spamming process can be conducted by posing bots as a content server while others as SMTP servers. A spam campaign includes message templates, a senders list, and a recipient list.

  • Launching a DDOS Attack:

A Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS) is another type of botnet attack launched on a website, company or government. This is conducted by sending many requests for content that overwhelms and shuts down the targeted server or website.

  • Ad Fraud

Cybercriminals can utilize the combined processing power of botnets to run fraudulent advertising schemes to attract clicks to get a percentage of ad fees.

  • Distributing Spyware, Malware, and Ransomware

Botnet attacks are also conducted to distribute spyware, ransomware, and malware.

  • Selling and Renting:

Believe it or not, botnets can be found for sale on the dark web to other cybercriminals to exploit!

How to detect a botnet attack:

Botnet attacks are very difficult to identify because they run with a key server controlling every bot in an order and control model. Such strategies often make it difficult to detect the botnet attack.

For such attacks, the first critical step is to recognize the attack immediately and track down that key main server. Inert analysis methods can be useful to spot contaminations in devices. These are run when the device isn’t executing any projects and include searching for malware marks and other doubtful associations with order and control workers that search for guidelines and suspicious executable documents.

The best antivirus programs can also help distinguish botnet attacks somewhat, yet most cannot spot tainted devices. Another intriguing strategy is utilizing honeypots, which are phony frameworks that lure a botnet attack through a fake penetration opportunity in order to help identify threats in the first place. For bigger botnet attacks, similar to the Mirai botnet attack, ISPs in some cases cooperate to recognize the progression of traffic and to find a way to stop the botnet attacks.

For most companies, it is critical to work with a cybersecurity firm with the expertise to recognize ongoing threats and compromised devices within the organization.

How to Prevent Botnet Attacks?

  1. Emphasize Cybersecurity Education

For companies of all sizes, training their people is key. Employees should be trained to report unauthorized emails to the IT team, how to spot phishing emails, not to use public Wi-Fi without using a VPN and more.

  1. Keep All Software Up-to-Date

Software patches should always be applied promptly – beyond your browser and operating system, don’t forget to update antivirus protection, too!

  1. Spam Filtering:

Email filtering solutions should be enabled to prevent most malicious messages from getting into the email inboxes. The more messages that are blocked, the less risk there is of your staff interacting with a phishing email.

  1. Avoid Downloads from File Sharing Networks and P2P

Botnets regularly capitalize on P2P networks and file-sharing services to exploit company networks. Make sure all files are downloaded only from trusted sources and they’re scanned before and after downloading.

  1. Control Access

Use multi-factor, risk-based authentication and other safe practices for access controls to prevent a successful botnet invasion on one machine from affecting the entire network.

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