What is a Botnet?
November 20, 2023
Botnet is a network of devices infected with the same malware, that subordinate to a single (group of) command servers. It can consist of different device types, or even different operating systems. While a significant porting of botnets is used for spamming purposes, hackers may rent them to deliver particular malware.
Aside from size, botnets also differ by the type of malware used to create it. Most common choice for that purpose is, obviously, backdoor malware. However, hacker can also use dropper malware, coin miners or even spyware. Depending on the base malware, the activities done by this botnet may differ as well.
As the networks may consist of tens of thousands of devices, it may be particularly hard to control all the devices at the same time. This forces botnet masters to segment the network by implementing intermediary command servers. This eases the control, and also improves botnet sustainability to disruptions from law enforcement. Structures may differ depending to the hackers' preferences.
Why do cyber cybercriminals need a botnet?
There are plenty of possible applications for any reasonably-sized botnet. Even if it is not on mind at the moment, cybercriminals will find where it can be used – be sure about that. Depending on the malware the botnet relies on, it can feature different functionality. Let’s review it one by one, beginning with the most potent one.
|Malware Type||Botnet Functionality|
|Backdoor||Deliver other malware, perform DDoS attacks, mine cryptocurrencies, provide remote access|
|Spyware||Provide remote access, steal specific data types, gather info about the users of infected PCs, deliver other malware (rarely)|
|Coin miner||Mine cryptocurrencies|
|Loader||Delivers other malware|
As you can see, two malware types provide the vast majority of functionality one can estimate from the botnet. But such a burden of functionality may overcomplicate making profit from having such a large network on hand. It may be much easier – and not much less profitable – to lease the mining network or give access for threat actors to deploy their malware into the network.
Still, the vast amount of malicious actions underscore the dangers of spyware and backdoors as malware types once again. They are dangerous by themselves, but when used to form the botnet they multiply the danger twin- or even triplefold. Sometimes, a single backdoor-based botnet may be used by numerous malware actors, where each of them has its own target.
Botnet activity in 2023:
- DarkGate and Pikabot Copy the QakBot Malware
- Condi Malware Builds a Botnet from TP-Link Routers
- GoTrim Malware Hacks WordPress Sites
- New Version of Truebot Exploits Vulnerabilities in Netwrix Auditor and Raspberry Robin Worm
- Mirai Botnet RapperBot Conducts DDoS Attacks on Game Servers
- Emotet Botnet Resumed Activity after Five Months of Inactivity
- The Updated Fodcha Botnet Reaches a Capacity of 1 Tb / s and Demands a Ransom Directly in DDoS Packets
- MooBot Botnet Attacks D-Link Routers
How can I understand that my computer is a part of a botnet?
Hackers who created botnets have no reason to ensure that the victim knows that it's computer is hacked. Since they have thousands of computers in their network, losing a single PC or even ten ones will not significantly affect them. They may start botnet activity even when you are using your computer. Hence, any strange activity among the listed below is a reason to scan your computer for possible backdoors. Here are the typical signs which indicate that your PC is a part of a botnet:
- The mouse pointer moves autonomously;
- You can see the console windows opening chaotically;
- Browser windows open without your intention;
- You see the 404 error when trying to open the websites, while having no issues from another device;
- For laptops: your battery life becomes miserable, without any updates in software or hardware or changes in the program you usually run;
- For users with metered connections: traffic is consumed extremely fast by app(s) you never used or installed.
At least two of these signs are enough to consider that someone else is using your computer. Don’t panic - crooks who added your computer to the botnet are likely not interested in your data or other sensitive information. All you have to do is to launch anti-malware software, perform the scan and remove the threat. Although the virus can suspend Microsoft Defender, it can barely disable third-party security tools.
How can I protect my system from turning into a part of a botnet?
It is tough to predict from where the backdoor virus will try to attack your system. Of course, botnets are created not only with backdoors; as mentioned, RATs and stealers are also in this party. Nonetheless, even system administrators can create only passive barriers against viruses. They will be effective until you open the enormous gate for any type of malware - the web browser.
To make your system protected, you need to use anti-malware or antivirus software with a proactive protection function. Security tools with this feature scan the activity of each running application and will detect malware by its behavior. Proactive protection is the most effective solution against backdoors. GridinSoft Anti-Malware is a security tool that can offer you this feature.