Botnet – 9 Important Things You Should Know


If you’re from a non-technical background let alone a software-oriented background, then it would prove to be difficult for you to understand something like botnet. in this article about Botnet, we aim at making you aware of the various aspects related to Botnet and its application in the present world. We hope you find this article of use. 

  1. What is Botnet?
  2. Architecture of Botnet 
  3. Components of Botnet
  4. Command and Control Protocols
  5. Vulnerable Devices
  6. Preventing Botnet Attacks
  7. Most Profound Botnet Attacks
  8. Botnet Market
  9. How Botnets Work

1) What is Botnet?

Botnet defines the combined threat of cybercrime that a group of devices faces together. The common malware faced can be by personal computers, servers, mobile devices, and IoT – the internet of things devices. The threat is usually hidden from these users so they remain absolutely unsuspicious about the whole scenario until their actual data seems attacked. The infected devices are further controlled by cybercriminals for various incentives, usually harmful.

The main functionality of a botnet is to send spam emails, generate malicious and untraceable traffic for some DDoS – distributed denial of service attacks, and even engage in click fraud. The person responsible for initiating the attack can control the botnet using command and control (C&C) software. The basic principle behind the working of the botnet is the breach of basic security protocols and the authority of infected devices being given to a third unknown party. HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) and IRC (internet relay chat) serve as standard network protocols for the same.

2) Architecture of Botnet 

Botnet has evolved over the years to evade detection and suspicion from cyber authorities and to make the anti-tracing capabilities even more enhanced.

  • Client-server architecture – the very first botnets worked on the client-server model to accomplish their goal. The bot herder (device controlling the infected systems) sends commands to the devices and the devices further complete the given task and send back confirmation to the bot herder.
  • Peer – to – peer architecture – as the name suggests, this model works on the peer-to-peer network to prevent decapitation. Each bot here grows its list of infected machines by running and scanning random IP addresses until it successfully finds one.

3) Components of Botnet

  • Bot herder
  • Covert channel 
  • Command and control
  • Zombie computer
  • Control protocols

4) Command and Control protocols

  • Telnet – they use a simple C&C protocol in which all the bots are connected to the main command server.
  • IRC – they tend to be simpler in construction as compared to telnets so they can host a large number of bots at the same time.
  • P2P – since most traditional bots can be hacked and put down after some time, hosts now use P2P bots to evade this security breach. These bots have the unique feature that they can be encrypted and hidden better.
  • Domains – these bots use domains rather than IRC. The only disadvantage associated with this protocol is that it uses a major bandwidth on a large scale so it can be quickly retrieved and seized by government agencies.

5) Vulnerable devices 

Cheap internet-capable devices are always prone to such botnet attacks majorly because of a lack of proper security protocols. Keeping weak or factory default passwords can also owe to botnet attacks because of being easily compromised. Sometimes the clients are unable to change or view their passwords which leaves them amidst the digital traffic, open to such a more generic way, IoT devices always are at higher risk of getting hacked because they offer a seemingly large surface for botnets to spread on.

6) Preventing botnet attacks 

Typically one would evade the botnet attacks by simply focusing and bettering the C&C software of the device but these attacks have become more sophisticated and it has become more and more tedious to find the communicators, the cyber security is manned not only in terms of C&C but also through identification and removal of botnet malware at the source device the case of ad frauds, disturbing the monetization chain proves to be the most fruitful, rather than aiming at improving the technical infrastructures.

7) Most profound botnet attacks 

  • Zeus malware – this malware was first identified in 2007 and uses a trojan horse program to infect the also spreads crypto lock ransomware (the data on the infected device is hacked and encrypted and ransom is demanded before uplifting the lock). Most typically, it was used to extort financial information and indulge in banking fraud and was disrupted in 2010 when two of the main hosts were shut down after infecting nearly 3.6 million systems.
  • Srizbi – this was first discovered in 2007 and was seemingly the largest botnet in the world for quite some was birthed with the intention of sending out email spams – as much as accounting for half the email spam on the internet at that time. The Srizbi botnet was a family of around 450,000 infected systems.
  • Methbot – it was identified by the cybersecurity services company white ops in 2016 and was an ad fraud was generating approximately $3 million – $5 million in revenue.
  • Mirai – it was responsible for a massive wave of DDoS attacks in scans the internet for easily breached connected affected some major corporations like HP and US Department of Defense (DoD).

8) Botnet market 

The botnet herder community has unparalleled competition in terms of who has the most wide spread bots, the highest overall bandwidth, which herder has the most amount of high quality and secure infected machines like government systems.

9) How botnets work

A hacker first buys or preferable builds an exploit kit to start infecting devices. After the bot has entered the infected device, the bot instructs the system to connect to a particular command and control (C&C) server which is managed by the cybercriminal. The botmaster then uses the different bots to receive sensitive data like online credentials and may even sell these credentials to online profit organizations or individuals.

The revenue generated with the data depends solely on the quality and precision with which the bot has performed the given task. A bot becomes more and more capable as it scans and breaches newer, more vulnerable systems in its vicinity. Sometimes it’s also possible to create and embed bots that are temporary and automatically self-destruct after the mission has been accomplished.

After reading this article we hope that you have a better understanding of botnet and the various aspects related to its application in the present world. 

So, have you made up your mind to make a career in Cyber Security? Visit our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Red Team) for further help. It is the first program in offensive technologies in India and allows learners to practice in a real-time simulated ecosystem, that will give you an edge in this competitive world.

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