Botnet – The Global Conspiracy
Botnets, worms, and viruses all sound like problems the everyday computer user shouldn’t have to deal with. This is what makes the home computer so susceptible – PC owners are the most oblivious to the harmful capabilities of Internet hackers.
The Power of a Botnet
While worms and viruses are certainly a problem, botnets are an even more frightneting threat to you and your computer. “Botnet” is a term used to describe a group of computers all running programs, such as viruses, worms, spyware, and trojan horses. The controller of a botnet has the ability to orchestrate the actions of these computers through remote access, just like in the movies.
This means that a botnet can consist of thousands of computers linked together all under the control of one hacker. Every computer connected to the Internet is vulnerable. In fact, your computer may currently be a part of a botnet without your knowledge. This is one of the scariest parts of a botnet – your computer can be connected to thousands of other computers for the purpose of harming other computers, and you may be none the wiser.
The Botnet Threat
Botnets do a number of destructive things to the computers over which they take control. A botnet community has the ability to infect other computers by forwarding viruses, worms, and spam. This means that your computer can be used to perpetrate illegal activities.
A botnet also allows the hacker to steal your bandwidth and computer resources. In short, botnets have the ability to hijack hundreds of thousands of computers all at the same time. The bandwidth and resources help the hacker gain enough power to wreak havock on the Internet.
One reason hackers create botnets is to steal personal information. When keyloggers are spread via a botnet, anyone who acquires the keylogger is vulnerable to identity theft. Keyloggers record every keystroke a computer user makes, including things like passwords and credit card numbers.
In the same way botnets spread keyloggers, they can also distribute other viruses. A hacker may even use a botnet to store an amalgam of viruses that sit waiting to be released. Similarly, botnets also will work to send loads of spam e-mail out to millions of computers. Sometimes this spam can appear to be useful, such as a Paypal or eBay update. However, upon further inspection, it may be revealed that it is actually spam.
How a Botnet Forms
Most often, botnets are created through the use of spam email. Spam is so easily spread that it creates an ideal opportunity for hackers to reach a large number of computers. Once an infected spam email is opened or an attachment is downloaded, the computer can be linked to the existing botnet.
Home computers are most commonly a part of botnet communities. This is because home computers tend to be the most vulnerable to viruses and worms. While big companies invest in cutting edge antivirus software, PC users will often deem it unnecessary.
As the botnet issue has become an increasing problem within the last several years, more and more PC owners are realizing the importance of spyware protection. Since botnets and spyware can be coded in order to evade detection, you never know if your system might be infected. It is best to take preemptive steps to protect your computer with antispyware software before a problem arises.