Botnet attack is one of the most common cyberattacks in the world. It can be used to carry out other forms of attacks, and in this post, we will tell you all you need to know about botnet attacks.
A botnet attack is a type of cyberattack where an attacker compromises and gains control of the resources of multiple devices connected to the internet, and the attacker collectively uses the resources of these devices to execute a malicious attack. These devices can range anywhere from computers, laptops, mobile phones, IoT devices, servers, and tablets.
The word “botnet” is a combination of two words: robot and network. The computers or devices that are compromised to execute an attack are referred to as bots, and for them to be used to execute an attack, they need to be connected to the internet.
These devices are controlled remotely by the attacker and the bots controlled by the attacker can range anywhere from a few hundred devices to millions of devices at a time. And all these devices are connected through an interconnected network to the computer of the hacker.
The way a botnet works is quite simple. So, what happens is that the attacker deploys malware to multiple devices. This malware then gets injected into computers that have no sort of protection against malware.
The way your computer gets infected with this malware is simple, this malware can get injected into your device(s) when you open and download email attachments from dodgy emails, or when you click on malicious ads on websites, when you install malicious applications on your devices, or sometimes through simple text messages.
The attacker may also exploit vulnerabilities and devices and then infect these devices with malware.
Once you fall victim to any of the options highlighted above, the malware automatically gets installed on your device. When the malware gets installed, it lays dormant and waits on a command from the computer of the attacker. Once the attacker issues a command, the computers infected with the malware automatically execute the command.
These commands sent by the attacker may request the bots (the infected devices) to execute numerous malicious activities such as executing a denial of service attack on another computer, sending spam, or any malicious activity as desired by the attacker. The attacker who infects your devices with the malware and controls the devices once they have been infected is known as the botmaster.
Usually, the attacker controls the device without the knowledge of the actual user or owner of that device, and your computer can become a part of a bot army without you knowing about it. There are two main disadvantages associated with your computer becoming part of a bot army. The first disadvantage is that the botmaster can monitor the operations of your computer. The second disadvantage is that your device becomes slow whenever the botmaster is executing a botnet attack.
All the infected devices are then collectively connected to a C&C (command and control) server(s). The command and control server is the medium through which the botmaster issues commands to the bots. These command and control servers are then connected to the botmaster’s computer, and this is where all the command comes from.
Also, the C&C server also serves as a medium through which the botmaster continues to infect these devices and recruit new devices to the bot army.
However, to prevent your device from becoming part of a botnet army, we recommend you update your device frequently, download apps and files from trusted sources, and install updated anti-malware software.
The botmaster may also collect these bots as real estate and then rent them out to other people. The botmaster may decide to rent out 50% of the bot or any percentage.
Botnets can be used for various forms of attacks, however, depending on the choice of the botmaster. However, there are four main attacks executed using botnets. These attacks include:
- Distributed Denial Of Service Attack (DDoS)
- Spreading malware
- Online fraud
However, out of these, the most common form of attack a botmaster executes is the DDoS, and we will take a look at that.
A DDoS attack involves the attacker/botmaster creating so much traffic to a targeted server. Usually, this server is a server of a big company such as Netflix, Bing, Google, or any other company out there.
Let’s take a look at how a normal interaction between a computer and a website looks like. So, what happens is that when you are connected to the internet and you enter a web address, your computer sends a request to the server on which that website is located. The server then searches for the page you requested and then responds with the requested web page to the browser.
So, with a DDoS attack, the botmaster instructs the various bots under their control to send multiple requests simultaneously to the targeted server. This simultaneous request from hundreds of thousands of computers to a million computers can cause unusual traffic to the server which causes the server to slow down or shut down completely. The more bots used to execute the attack, the more difficult it is for the targeted server to neutralize such an attack because it becomes difficult for the targeted server to block each request from each bot.
When this happens, when a legitimate user tries to access a webpage on the server, the request of the user will timeout, causing an HTTP error 408. And when people cannot access the site, they close it off and this can cause the companies to lose money.
The objective for most DDoS attacks is to extort money from the owners of the server. So, the attacker may request for a ransom to be paid before the DDoS attack is stopped.
Botnet attacks are a way of attackers leveraging the computing power of multiple computers to achieve a common goal and to ensure that your computer isn’t part of a botnet, always make sure to update it and have botnet protection software installed on your devices.