What Are Botnets?

Botnet is a slang designation for a group of computers, (software robots, or bots) all connected to the Internet, which run automatically and interact to accomplish a distributed task, usually illegal or nefarious in nature. The reason you should know about botnets is because they operate without the computer owner's awareness. You should protect your computer from becoming part of a botnet.

A botnet herder (owner) typically compromises, infects, and subsequently assimilates these computers into the botnet from a remote location without the owner's knowledge. The computers themselves are known as drones. The more drones contained within the botnet, the more damage the botnet can wreak on the Internet as a whole. The malicious software running on the drones is a "bot".

The difference between a botnet and a conventional worm is the presence of a unifying control system.

How Do Botnets Work?

The primary goal for a botnet herder is to gather as many drones as possible into the botnet. The bot software usually contains a functionality automating the task of scanning a computer's IP address for vulnerable software holes. The bot then propagates itself using these vulnerabilities and weak passwords.

Bots become more valuable if they are able to scan and propagate through a greater number of vulnerabilities. This allows them to recruit more bots into the botnet and make the collective more powerful through the greater number of drones.

Botnet Concerns

The collective nature of botnets provides criminals with power over those who use the Internet. Herders with control over a large number of systems can engage in more damaging activities and wreak substantial havoc on the Internet.

The following types of attacks are caused by botnets:

How Do I Protect Myself?

Prudent security practices and user awareness are key in avoiding infection and exploitation by Botnets. We can all mitigate Botnets by preventing their formation in the first place.

What to Do If You Are a Victim of a Botnet

These helpful tips are provided by Digital Defense, Inc., a computer security company working with your bank as a responsible member of the community to help insure the privacy and security of our nation's financial information.