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Bots and Botnets – What are they and why are they a risk?

December 21, 2016

Bots and Botnets – What are they and why are they a risk?

Written by admin

Bots and botnets are a growing threat and continue to be one of the most sophisticated and popular types of cybercrime. But what are they, why are they a threat and how can you protect yourself?

What are they?

A “bot” is a type of malware that allows a hacker to take control of a computer. Bots scan the net for vulnerable and unprotected machines. Bots are usually part of a network of infected machines, known as a “botnet.”

Your computer can become infected without your knowledge and through simple methods such as spam emails with attachments. Once the spam attachment is opened, the virus will be activated and the computer will be infected.

Once the computer is infected, it acts as a “zombie”, carrying out the desired actions of the cybercriminal. It will be used to spread viruses, span, spyware and will be used to commit other types of cybercrime.

Why are they a threat?

Once the computer has become infected, any data on it becomes compromised. The bots steal information and communicate it back to the attacker. Information such as credit card numbers, bank credentials, sensitive and confidential documents are often the main targets.

Emails that contain this malware will appear to come from the original user or employee, meaning people will be less likely to question the integrity of the email and attachment. This is how the virus will spread.

Cleaning up infected computers can cause a company downtime which in turn can affect their service to customers, costing them time and money.

What can you do if you become infected?

There are a few warning signs that a computer may be part of a botnet. Computers slowing down, mysterious messages being displayed or the computer crashing are all signs that something may be wrong.

Once the infection is noticed, it is important to find the source immediately and quarantine all machines that have been infected. The computers will then need to be wiped and checked for viruses. Lost information will then come from a backup, which will be dated from before the virus was opened. This reiterates the importance of having at least one backup of your system.

How do you protect yourself?

  • NEVER open an attachment unless you can verify the source
  • Ensure you have up to date firewalls, anti-virus programmes and software
  • Limit user rights and authorities online and in your network
  • Educate staff on the importance of cyber security and vigilance online
  • Always have at least one backup of your data and systems
  • Have a disaster recovery plan implemented in your business.

Atlas Communications offer disaster recovery options for businesses of all sizes and requirements. If you would like any information on any of these products, please do not hesitate to contact us on 02890786868.

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