How to Prevent Botnet Attacks

The rising incidences of DDoS attacks signify the need for strict protection against cybersecurity threats. These attacks mainly use botnets employed to control users’ devices to steal data, deny access to services and resources, and cause unnecessary downtime on applications. They can also activate a spam campaign, delete or destroy data, and take over user activities. They are employed maliciously by hackers and non-maliciously for ethical hacking but all with similar bad effects and consequences to the end-users. There is no way to justify these attacks.

In a DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attack, the criminal sends multiple requests to overwhelm or flood service and hence effectively denies other users the service. Thieves commonly employ it in denying web services, email services, and access to device applications. They then deploy attack software on the networks and devices.

Understanding Botnet Attacks

Botnets are a set of automated software designed and used together to perform malicious activity once installed on a machine. A hacker can launch a botnet remotely onto a machine or computer platform. They can remotely install software that will aid the functioning of remote bots. Attackers also take advantage of existing components of known operating software to launch their bots remotely or otherwise.

In most cases, attackers exploit machines or device’s security vulnerabilities. Malware and viruses are also employed to compromise the computer’s intricate security system or security software. Once security is compromised, attackers can then install additional malicious software remotely or otherwise.

Once installed, the botnets can then help attackers to access other services on the machine they are installed. For instance, they can access logged-in services and accounts. Some will continuously monitor the devices for passwords and other data or information such as banking information logged into services.

How Botnets Work

Botnets are created by creating malware or modifying an already existing malware. The malware is often a Trojan type of virus. These viruses are launched in the form of executable files that can be installed on a target device. Once a device is infected, it can then keep spreading the virus through its program and data/information copied or sent to other devices.

Botnets attacks usually involve infecting multiple computers and machines with malware. In most cases, it is not a one-time event but a process that takes time with compromises executed little by little. Attackers can also sell software to aid other criminals to execute their activities. The number of bots depends on the owner’s ability to infect and purchase other software. The number, therefore, varies from one botnet to another.

Further, remote botnets can be launched through different platforms and applications. It can be through a web browser, web browser extension, a dedicated third-party application on a device, or through the operating system itself. They are also installed via email programs, popup notifications and clickable ads, download links and resources, and web links. Otherwise, they can be installed manually too to aid other remote control methods.

Botnets also take advantage of spam attacks where attackers use a web server with SMTP or POP3 to send spam and fraud emails to recipients. Botnets are also used in illegal remote mining of cryptocurrency on users’ devices without their knowledge. They also assist in fraud traffic where the attacker launches them to fake traffic onto a website and increase ad revenue. Ransomware is also part of botnets where attackers launch software to remotely lock and control devices and services, and then ask for money to unlock or release the services. Spyware botnets steal user’s information like passwords and credit card information.

Nevertheless, botnets can be active or passive. The active types do not need a user to spread it as they can do so automatically. It does so by activating other host programs. Passive botnets infect other devices through human help. It may therefore involve social engineering and phishing campaigns and attacks.

In a command control type of botnet, all the infectious devices communicate with the central server or herder. Telnet is a type of command control where new computers are added to the botnet through a scanning script. This script is installed on a separate server from the herder. The Internet Relay Chat is a type of botnet that avoids hides from identity by using a low band and simpler communication services. The domain type infects computers through web pages and domains while the P2P infects users’ machines through peer-to-peer connections and each computer acts as a server and client.

How to Protect Computers from Botnets

Botnets are hard to prevent because they can use multiple IPs. Adding to the problem is the possibility to use IP-addressable IoT devices because these are weaker in security than personal computers.

1. Update Software All The Time – Security updates and patches allow software manufacturers to fix known vulnerabilities in previous versions. Remember botnets usually exploit known security vulnerabilities on OS and third-party applications to act.

2. Monitor Networks Closely – This allows you to identify and block unusual activities in your network. You can track all activity in a network using software to detect malware, viruses, and botnets. This software uses analytics and data-collection solutions and takes advantage of shared information about botnet attackers to protect a device.

3. Monitor and Limit Failed in Attempts – Botnets many times try to guess logins and therefore you can keep them out by monitoring and limiting login attempts, as well as blocking suspect sources.

4. Deploying Botnet Detection Solutions Real-time botnet detection is possible with AI-based software. This software identifies botnets by their behavior. It performs real-time behavior analysis on computer platforms and resources. It analyses bots using an AI algorithm that uses data from different sources to detect bot activity. It analyzes billions of resources every day. Further, the algorithm is updated daily. This allows it to reflect changing bots and botnets.

Botnet detection solutions are either developed in-house by a company or outsourced. You can also purchase botnet detection and blocking software as a ready-to-deploy solution from vendors and manufacturers.

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