Waiting asleep in the darkness of your computer: BOTNET  screenshot

Waiting asleep in the darkness of your computer: BOTNET

Trojans changing computer’s BOTs are difficult to detect, and are therefore particularly dangerous.

What is a BOTNET?

BOTNETs are networks of computers which are "zombie" - controlled remotely by cyber-criminals, called BOT-Masters, who use such networks to profit from criminal activity.

Computers become part of a BOTNET when malware infections (Trojans) activate the command BOT master and perform various kinds of tasks. Without the knowledge or consent of the computer owner, a Trojan usually makes all computer resources available to it’s own means, and completely controls the infected equipment.

How do they work?

They work by occupying the least possible power and primarily try to act when no one is using the computer. Users generally do not notice BOTS, nor most of the consequences of their actions.

How are computers infected?

There are a few ways, such as when browsing the web, through infected emails, or downloading programs like P2P networks.

Sometimes infection can occur when activating a link in Google, or using another search engine with a specially crafted web page.

How can they threaten me?

Computers belonging to a BOTNET can be used by a BOT-Master and its clients to:

  • Commit criminal activities directed against other computers and their users
  • Spam
  • Spy on your computer data which is then installed on the BOT
  • Paralyze servers and websites as a result of repeated queries sent from multiple BOTNET computers
  • DoS attacks
  • Phishing

Even if users assess the risks as negligible, the problem remains of the control of your computer by unauthorized persons. It is difficult to calculate the risk. The BOTNETs we have today are just the beginning. Trojans installed on computers may be updated at any time and equipped with new features and capabilities, if the BOT-Master deems such an operation viable.

BOT-Masters could, for example ...

  • Lock your hard drive and enable you to access the data only after you are forced to make a payment of a specified amount
  • Steal data access to your bank's website, your Amazon account or other services that you use via the Internet
  • Steal your addresses and for example, send email in your name to your contacts
  • Make illegal downloads on your behalf onto your computer
  • Use your computer to store illegal information

It's hard to believe ... Right? But what if it happens?

How can I protect my computer from being exploited by a BOTNET?

In order to protect personal data, maintain optimum performance of your computer, avoid unconscious participation in the activities of a criminal nature and to improve the overall level of security on the Internet, simply apply a few simple rules.

1 Install antivirus software and perform regular updates

An antivirus program detects and removes viruses and malware located on your hard drive. An outdated version of antivirus software is worthless because it does not recognize new viruses.

2 Do not turn off the firewall

Firewalls provide you with protection from unwanted attacks from the Internet. This way you can prevent BOT-Master access to your computer, and even block the ability to install malware.

3 Update your software

All current programs contain errors and vulnerabilities. Over time, these gaps are detected and removed. To remove these gaps, you need to update software regularly.

4 Securing your data regularly

You should keep in mind the possibility that errors relating to software, hardware or services, as well as viruses, can cause loss of or damage to your data. Regular back-ups are an easy step to make that can do no harm.

5 Be careful when checking your e-mail

Viruses and malware are often sent to potential victims in emails. The content of the email encourages recipients to click on a link to open an attachment or perform other activities that allow the sender to attack your computer. If an email has a strange topic, in general it is best not to open it.

6 If something seems odd, do not panic

Computers are complex devices and to know all the secrets of their operation is rather impossible, unless you're a computer scientist. If something bothers you, do not act rashly, but seek help from someone who has specialist knowledge.

None of the above actions themselves constitute an catch-all means to block attacks, but the combination of all these security measures for your computer is a good daily practice to help maintain the health and wellbeing of your computer, as well as annoy potential BOT-Masters.