Everything you need to know about botnets, including how to protect yourself from them

The Internet is not a safe place these days.

The web is filled with numerous cybersecurity threats from malicious links to trojans, viruses, and botnets. Hackers are on a constant search for their next victims. Data breaches have become more frequent than ever. The worst part of it all is that most Internet users are unsuspecting of how vulnerable they are in the face of these threats because they share much more personal information than ever before but fail to protect it from hackers.

One of the cybersecurity threats that can cause a lot of damage and wreak havoc in users’ devices are botnets. If you learn more about botnets, you can better protect yourself from them.

What are botnets and how they can affect your online security? Keep reading below to find out!

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Botnets explained

A botnet represents a collection of internet-connected devices which have been infected by hackers with malware, allowing hackers to control them from their end. After being infected with malware, hackers use botnets for attacks that include malicious activities like credentials leaks, unauthorized access, data theft, and DDoS attacks.

Put simply, hackers infect the bots, designs a command system for their actions, and then send them to users’ devices and control the bots from their end.

After the user’s device is compromised by the bot, the hacker who sent it gets full control of the device and can use it for various things, including malicious activities.

Now, a botnet includes three main components: the bots, the command-and-control servers (C&C), and the threat actor, or else known as the bot herder.

There can be two types of botnets which are:

Centralized botnets

In the case of botnets with a centralized architecture, the C&C server is in charge of the botnet’s activity and, obviously, the devices it compromises.

Decentralized botnets

When it comes to botnets with decentralized architecture, they are a peer-to-peer model meaning that the bots are not directly contacted with the C&C server. So, the bots communicate, share information and commands amongst themselves.

Decentralized botnets are more complex and difficult to create by hackers. However, when used for attacks, decentralized botnets are more difficult to control and defend. What’s more, with this type of botnet, only one infected bot can easily influence the other ones and infect as many devices are prone to the attack.

How botnets affect you?

Botnets can affect you both directly and indirectly.

The direct impact of this cybersecurity threat can be data or identity theft, as well as device hijacking. Since we all store sensitive data on our devices, including passwords, financial details, and identity details, when our devices get compromised, so gets all the data we store on them.

As for botnets’ indirect impact, hackers can use botnets to launch Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks through your device and even use it to send spam emails to other users.

How to protect yourself from botnets?

You don’t have to be a cybersecurity expert to take some steps to protect yourself from botnet attacks. Here are a few tips:

Get antivirus software

Regularly install new device updates

Don’t click on links or download attachments from unknown or untrusty sources

Have a firewall installed while surfing the web.

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