Botnets are the internet equivalent of the amoral cyborgs in the Terminator sci-fi movie franchise. Botnets go about their business with no regard for the financial losses or personal harm suffered by those individuals or business. In fact, these robot hordes are commanded by hackers. But rather than attempting to hack individual computers one at a time, botnets distribute malicious code automatically. Often among tens of thousands of individual computers simultaneously. This is why botnets are classified as an automated cyber attack process.
A few botnets have achieved near-mythical status due to their durability and destructiveness:
Cybersecurity experts have made multiple recommendations to help keep individual computers safe from botnet infections. Many of those recommendations are basic cybersecurity practices. Check out the follow tips to keep your computer from being inducted into the horde:
Avoid Bad Emails & Links
users should not click on links in email from unknown sources or that appear in any way suspicious. The link may well be the first step of a botnet’s being inserted into a computer. In a similar manner, users should refrain from downloading any attachments to an email or other message that were not requested.
Keep Your Antivirus Software Updated
Users should install the best antivirus software and other technology solutions available to screen out malicious code. That software should also be maintained and updated regularly.
Turn On Auto-Updates For All Software
In fact, all software, apps, and operating systems should be updated regularly. If you hate seeing update prompts, just turn on auto-updates instead. This ensures that bug fixes and security patches are installed on your devices. Without these, hackers can insert botnets into a workstation or device. Scary stuff, right?
These recommendations apply not only to individual computers, but also to smartphones and IoT devices. Basically, anything that links into your company’s network interface. IoT firmware, in particular, has been found to be older and more vulnerable to botnet insertion than standalone workstations.
Individual users can also look for clues to assess whether their workstations and devices have been infected by botnets. Examples include:
These are all signs of potential botnet infection. Users can peruse the task managers on their workstations, or simply disconnect from the internet to determine if a botnet is at work.
Unfortunately, no amount of oversight or diligence can prevent every conceivable infection by a botnet or some other malicious code. Organizations that have fallen prey to botnet infections can face substantial losses and third-party liabilities. And if those botnets are responsible for leaching personal and financial data out of a corporate network, you could be sued by partners or customers. In that event, a cyber insurance policy can provide coverage for a targeted company to pay for those losses and liabilities. It can even help the organization regain its operations more quickly and efficiently.
Nobody wants to face down a botnet. But in today’s dangerous cybersecurity climate, it’s almost an inevitability. Prepare yourself before it’s too late.