What is a Botnet?
A botnet is a network of devices infected with malware that hackers control remotely without the device owners’ knowledge. They use the infected computers to mine cryptocurrency, flood other servers with traffic to shut them down, send phishing emails that trick victims into handing over their personal information, or perform other malicious activities.
Hackers infect their target computers with malware through a variety of methods such as phishing attacks, compromised websites and click fraud campaigns. PCs are the primary targets for these types of attacks, but other devices like mobile phones and even IoT hardware like cameras and routers may also be co-opted into botnets.
Once infected, each compromised computer or “zombie” device clandestinely connects to criminal command and control servers — known as C&C servers — to receive instructions. The herders may take command duties themselves or lease them out on a marketplace to other hackers, making the botnet one of the most profitable types of cyberattacks.
In a decentralized model, the herders share instruction responsibilities across their army of zombies, making the botnet more difficult to detect. Another botnet-attacking strategy involves peer-to-peer (P2P), in which each infected device acts as both a client and a server to communicate with the herders.
Keep your device security up to date with a strong Internet security suite that includes anti-virus software, and be vigilant about clicking on links in emails, texts or social media messages. Oftentimes these kinds of links are vehicles for botnets, and manually entering the link into your web browser can help avoid infections.