The Rise of Botnets: What You Should Know

Statistics show there are now over 7 billion devices connected to the internet. From computers and smartphones to wearable electronics, automotive infotainment systems and even smart household appliances, countless devices are now able to send and receive data over the internet. Unfortunately, this has led to increasing rates of botnet-related cyber attacks.

What Is a Botnet?

A botnet is a network of internet-connected devices controlled by a hacker that’s used for the purpose of conducting cyber attacks or other illicit cyber activities. The devices themselves typically aren’t owned by the hacker who controls them. Rather, they are owned by individuals and business owners, most of whom don’t even realize their devices have been hijacked. The hacker essentially takes control of the internet-connected devices, after which he or she uses them to conduct cyber attacks.

Botnets are capable of performing a wide range of cyber attacks, some of which include the following:

  • Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS)
  • Keylogging and data theft
  • Cryptomining
  • Malware deployment through web injection
  • Domain Name Server (DNS) spoofing

How Big Are Botnets?

Botnets vary in size. Some consist of just a few internet-connected devices, whereas others consist of millions of internet-connected devices. Research shows the world’s largest known botnet was BredoLab, which consists of roughly 30 million hijacked devices.

Generally speaking, the larger the botnet, the more destructive and wide-reaching its effects. If a botnet is used to conduct a DDoS attack, for example, its impact will be measured the number of devices it has. A botnet with just 10 devices probably won’t cause any noticeable impact on a target business’s network. A botnet with 1 million devices, on the other hand, can easily take the network offline, especially if little or no safeguards are used to filter the malicious traffic.

How to Tell If Device Is Used for a Botnet

So, how do you know if one of your business’s computers or devices is being used in a botnet? When a computer or device, it will likely run slower than normal, especially if it’s being used for DDoS attacks. The DDoS attack requires resources, so the computer or device won’t have the same amount of available resources for legitimate processes like running programs. In addition to slower speeds, a computer or device may trip antivirus software if it’s being used for a botnet.

Don’t let a botnet wreak havoc on your business’s network. Monitor for signs of both device hijacking, as well as botnet-related cyber attacks, to achieve a safe and secure network.