A new technological threat has been increasing in popularity and strength in recent years - botnets. These are not the kind of botnets that productively crawl search engines to provide you with the best search results, these botnets are malicious and have the potential to hijack your computer.
Here's what you need to know about botnets:
WHAT ARE THEY?
Botnets are controlled by an administrator, meant to either crawl the internet or directly hack into your computer. These botnets are highly illegal, and are typically used for the purpose of making money or stealing data. Once a botnet hacks into your device, it runs in the background of your computer as your device gets added to a network of other computers that have been attacked. Your computer then waits on commands from the botnet administrator. Some of these commands include emailing spam to a significant number of users, shutting down websites, generating fake website traffic for financial gain, or generating "pop-ups" that entice users to pay a fee to get a botnet off of their computer. Botnets are not decreasing in popularity, as Fortinet found 268 unique botnets through their data so far in 2018, which is a 3% increase from their last study.
Related: Be Prepared to Fight Cybercrime with User Training
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
The initial risk of your computer being hijacked by a botnet is that it can run in the background and remain undetected for a significant amount of time. During this time, other risks include the loss of money, access to your data, stolen passwords, and potentially complete control of your device. According to the 2018 Fortinet study, 58% of botnet infections last one day. That may not seem like a long period of time, but 24 hours is all it takes for your organizational data to be compromised.
HOW WILL YOU KNOW IF YOU'VE BEEN INFECTED?
Botnets are usually very hard to detect - occasionally an antivirus software may pick up on botnet activity, but they are typically designed to fly under the radar. If your computer has been infected with a botnet and added to a large network, your device may start to consistently run slowly. If you are worried about whether or not your device has been infected, or if a website you want to view has malicious content, visit this Fortinet Web Filter Lookup as a resource.
Related: Cylance - Proactive Protection for Your Business
PROTECTING YOUR BUSINESS
There are several precautions you can take to avoid getting infected by a botnet. First of all, be sure that your computer operating systems are updated as soon as new updates are available. Botnets are often installed within the flaws of your operating system, so staying on top of updates could protect your system later on. Ensure you have implemented security software that can provide proactive protection for your business. It's also important to be weary of clicking on suspicious website links or attachments, especially from emails that don't seem right.
For the tell-tale signs of what NOT to click on, click here.
Malicious botnets are consistently searching for easy targets. Make sure you keep your devices updated, educate your team on what suspicious links and attachments look like, and pay attention to whether or not your device begins to run slowly. Consult your IT team if you feel uneasy about your computer being compromised. It's always better to be safe than sorry and to becoming an easy target for botnets.