Think of the damage that a hacker can do. Right from, breaking into people’s accounts, spreading fake websites, sending out dangerous spam to tricking people into handing out personal information, infecting millions with malware, and even denying access to the internet. Now imagine what a hacker can do with an army of computers at their disposal, strengthening his resources on an order of thousands and millions. This army of computers actually exists, and these are called “Botnet(s)”.
What is Botnet?
Basically, a botnet is a network of infected computers which, under the command of a single master computer, work together to accomplish a goal. It may seem simple, but it is the powerhouse behind some of the worst attacks’ hackers can attempt.
A botnet includes groups of computers that have been infected with malware. A hacker remotely controls all of the computers in the group to do things like sending spam messages, generating fake web traffic, conducting DDoS attacks, serving ads to everyone in the botnet, or even forces payment from users to be removed from the botnet.
A botnet relies on two things:
First, it needs a large network of infected devices, called “zombies”, to do the grunt work for whatever scheme the hacker has planned.
Second, it needs someone to actually command them to do something, which is called the Command and Control center, or “bot herder”.
Once these things are in place, a botnet is ready to bring chaos and do harm to people and systems.
How do Botnets work?
There are two primary ways that botnets are set up, the Client-Server model and the Peer-to-Peer model.
- Client-Server Model: This is an old-fashioned way, where “zombies” receive their instructions from a single location, usually a shared server or website. So, if you want to shut down a botnet, just take down the website or server and the whole system would crumble.
- Peer-to-Peer Model: In this system, each infected machine communicates directly to a few others on the network. Those few others are connected to a few more until the whole system is strung together. So, removing one or two devices is not a problem in this model, as others can pick up the slack.
In both cases, the Command and Control owner can command and control the network. This is the reason why they use digital signatures to ensure that only commands issued by the hacker or whoever he sold the botnet to are spread through the entire network.
5 ways to stop Botnets from stealing Data
Botnet attacks are generally combined with other cyber threats, which makes its detection challenging. However, eliminating botnet threats can help businesses to stay protected from such attacks.
- Windows firewall: This is the basic defensive tool against network-based security threats. However, users sometimes prefer to disable them to establish easy network connections. Organizations must have alternative firewall protection and also, ensure the appropriate configuration of firewalls.
- VPN with a kill switch: A VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows access to private data through a public network. If the VPN provider has a kill switch to stop access to confidential information, the switch will hinder the transfer of data from VPN to any unsecured connection.
- Network compartmentalization: Enterprises must have secure external and internal network communications. Compartmentalizing a network facilitates in putting up access controls to limit internal communication and also monitor tracks of unexpected connections, thus highlighting the presence of a cyberattack. By limiting broad access to internal machines, the botnets can be stopped from spreading.
- Plan a secure baseline strategy against BEC attacks: BEC (Business Email Compromise) is a common form of cyberattack that targets businesses relying on wired transactions with international suppliers. Such attacks are not easy to defend. Therefore, to end such attacks, Organizations need defensive gateway web tools.
- A dedicated system to block fraudulent emails: Many busy users click on emails without paying much attention to them. In an Organisation, having a policy against opening random emails is not enough. While raising awareness can be of some help, the employees should be able to report suspicious emails. Additionally, employees should be prompted to update their login credentials with strong passwords, so as to create awareness of different kinds of cyberattacks and their respective real-time solutions.
Botnets are difficult to stop once they have taken control of user’s devices. So, to reduce phishing attacks and other issues, make sure each of your devices is guarded well against this malicious hijack.
Neumetric, a cybersecurity services, consulting & products Organization, can help you reduce your security cost without compromising your security posture. Our years of in-depth experience in handling security for Organizations of all sizes & in multiple industries make it easier for us to quickly execute cost-cutting activities that do not bring value to you, while you continue focusing on the Business objectives of the Organization.