Botnet : What is it and how to protect yourself from it?

Botnets are networks of electronic devices infected and controlled by malware, used by hackers to carry out DDoS or other types of cyber attacks. Find out everything you need to know about them.

For several years now, Botnets are increasingly used by cybercriminals. to such an extent that they have become one of the greatest cyber security threats. A Botnet consists of a set of devices connected to the Internet, infected and controlled by the same malware. These devices can be PCs, servers, smartphones and tablets or even connected objects.

Once infected with malware, devices can be remotely controlled by the cybercriminal behind the attack. They can then be used for specific tasks such as DDoS attacks, click fraud campaigns, spamming or data theft. Botnets can also be used to spread Fake News on social networks.

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In addition, criminals are using them more and more for the mining of crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin. In this case, the computing power of the hijacked devices is used to undermine cryptomoney. Experts predict that this trend will continue to grow in the coming years.

Often, users of malware-infected and malware-controlled devices will not be able to access the Internet.e are not even aware that their equipment is contaminated.. It is this difficulty in detecting Botnets that makes them particularly formidable .

How does a Botnet work?

The term “Botnet” is a contraction between “robot” and “network” (network). It is indeed a network of robots used to commit cybercrimes. To create a Botnet, a criminal must take control of as many devices connected to the Internet as possible. For good reason, the more “robots” there are, the more massive and therefore dangerous the network will be.

In general, the malware that can take control of infected devices are Trojan horse viruses. By opening an email attachment, clicking on a pop-up or downloading software from a website, the victim unknowingly deploys malware on his system.

Afterwards, the virus takes full control of the computer.. It is then able to access personal data stored on the machine, attack other computers, or commit a wide variety of cybercrimes.

The most sophisticated Botnets can spread automatically from one device to another. They are constantly searching the web for vulnerable devices that have not been updated or do not have anti-virus software.

The Botnets are very difficult to detect, as they use only a small part of the computing power of the infected machine. This is what allows them to avoid disturbing the operation of the device and thus alerting the user. Some can even adapt their behaviour to avoid being detected by the cybersecurity software. As time goes by, malware is becoming more and more advanced and therefore more difficult to detect .

Which devices are vulnerable to Botnets?

Botnets can infect any device connected to the internet. PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, security cameras, connected objects… none of these categories of devices are immune.

So, although it may sound silly, it is often a connected fridge or coffee machine is enrolled. by a botnet to carry out a cyber attack. These devices are also prime targets, as their manufacturers often define very weak passwords to ensure their security by default. Malware can therefore easily detect and infect them.

As a matter of fact, while the Internet of Things is makes sense to see an increase in the number of botnets. Cybercriminals have more opportunities to develop their botnets, and these botnets can have even more impact.

In 2016, a DDoS attack hit the internet infrastructure company Dyn. This attack was based on a botnet consisting exclusively of security cameras and connected digital cameras. It caused a massive internet blackout in much of the United States, including websites such as Twitter and Amazon.

What are the different types of Botnet attacks?

botnet protection

Botnets can be used to conduct different types of cyber attacks. The most common is the denial of service or DDoS attack, which consists of using all the bots on the network to connect simultaneously to the same website and make it crash.

It is also possible to use them for fraud purposes, using all malware infected devices to click on the advertisements of a website and thus generate advertising revenue for this site.

Many cybercriminals are also involved in the botnettingby selling them or buying them on the internet. Once the botnet is set up, the hacker only has to find other cybercriminals looking for such a device to carry out his own cyber attacks.

How to protect yourself from the Botnets?

You will have understood it: whether you are a company or an individual, your electronic devices are not safe from botnets.. Although the French gendarmerie recently managed to take control of one of the world’s largest Botnets to destroy it from the inside, there are tens of thousands of them active on the web. However, there are several practices that can be adopted to minimize the risks.

First of all, always take care update the operating system of your devices. For good reason, software developers are actively fighting malware and deploying updates to protect OSes.

Second, Always avoid opening attachments. in suspicious emails or emails from unknown sources, and even take care to check your friends and family’s emails for fraud. According to Proofpoint’s Annual Human Factor Report, 99% of cyber attacks are based on the victim clicking on a link. In addition, it is important to avoid downloading files from P2P networks or file-sharing services.

Finally, opt for antivirus software to protect your system against Botnets and other types of malware. This concerns your computer, but also all other electronic devices in your possession.

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