Today’s technology has opened a wide range of opportunities for businesses and consumers alike. However, it has also paved the way for cybercriminals and their malicious acts. One of the most popular techniques used is the botnet.
What is a Botnet?
A botnet, (derived from robot network), refers to a vast array of hijacked internet-connected devices used by malicious actors to carry out cyberattacks. Hackers used these compromised devices to send spam messages, gain unauthorised access to critical systems, disrupt services, compromise confidential information and launch larger-scale attacks such as malware distribution Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS attacks.
What is a Botnet Attack?
A botnet attack transforms compromised devices into ‘zombie bots.’ Compared to other malware that simply replicates itself within a single system, the effect of a botnet attack can be more disastrous as it allows the hacker to perform a variety of actions all at the same time.
As the years passed by, botnet attacks are becoming more sophisticated than ever. Unlike other types of malware attacks, botnet attacks can be easily scaled up to cause larger damages.
How Does Botnet Attack Work?
Botnets are designed to automate and speed things up so hackers can carry out even larger attacks. Botnet attack begins with attackers gaining access to the victims’ computers by compromising their security. After which, devices are brought under control using software that commands the devices to carry out attacks on a large scale.
Often, cybercriminals do not use the botnet to perform the attack themselves. Instead, they sell their access to the networks to other malicious actors.
Different Types of Botnet Attack
Botnet attacks may differ depending on the methods and the tools that attackers used. The most common types of botnet attacks include:
Brute Force Attack
A brute force attack is typically used when the attacker does not know the victim’s password/s. This attack uses trial-and-error methods in order to guess login info. The most common brute force attack is called the Dictionary attack, where the attacker uses a dictionary of possible passwords and tries them all.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks
A DDoS attack is one of the most common types of botnet attacks. This attack works by overloading a server with web traffic sent by bots to crash it and interrupt the service. In most cases, the downtime brought by the DDoS attack is also used by cybercriminals to launch additional botnet attacks.
Attackers used phishing attacks to trick employees into sharing critical information such as login credentials, financial information or credit card details. This technique is also used by cybercriminals to gain access to more devices so they can grow the botnets.
Cybercriminals also launch bots for device bricking attacks. Device bricking occurs when a device is infected with malware causing the device to be unstable and eventually lose its content.
How Botnet Attacks Can Be Prevented
Unfortunately, botnet attacks are hard to detect because there are no early signs that show when a device is compromised. Fortunately, there are certain measures you can do to prevent these attacks.
Update your systems regularly
One of the key factors that make a successful botnet attack is the use of unpatched vulnerabilities present in a device. So to prevent such threats, regularly updating your systems such as hardware devices and legacy devices is necessary.
Implement basic cybersecurity practices
To keep botnet attacks at bay, implementing basic cybersecurity practices is a must. This includes using complex passwords and investing in employee training. In addition to this, you should also practice taking appropriate precautions when adding new devices that enter your network. For starters, make sure that all devices have sound security settings.
Deploy multi-factor authentication and control access to devices
In addition to using strong, complex passwords, deploying multi-factor authentication and limiting access only to people who need it most can be of great help. While it can’t prevent all botnet attacks from happening, controlling access can help isolate the attack to only several devices.
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