Malware can be confusing. Not just because there are millions of different types of malware, because they’re constantly evolving. And it doesn’t help much that researchers have a tendency to give them some crazy names.

The botnet, on the other hand, is relatively easy to understand. Instead of just stopping at infecting thousands or even millions of computers, botnets will continue to control all those computers remotely to perform the bidding of the bot controller or herder. That’s why it’s one of most sinister types of malware that all business owners need to be aware of.

Botnet Definition

A botnet is a network of computers that have been infected with some type of bot malware, and that network is then used for all kinds of fraudulent activity. Hackers use cloud services, like Dropbox, to tap into massive and free computing power to grow their botnets. They simply sign up for multiple free accounts and use those accounts to spread their malware. Some botnets can have millions of infected or “zombie” computers working together. The FBI estimates that on any given day there could be more than 100 million zombie computers infected worldwide.

Crimes committed by botnets include storing and sharing pornography, hiding stolen or breached information, attacking other websites, spreading malware, and advertising fraud. It’s believed that nearly 30% of display advertising traffic worldwide is hijacked by botnets, redirecting potential customers and costing advertisers $10 billion last year.

A growing trend is for botnet creators to rent out their criminal network to other criminals. In June 2014, the FBI announced that it had managed to take down a botnet that had more than half a million hijacked computers in its network and had made more than $100 million for its creators.

How Can You Spot Botnet Attacks?

If your website is infected with a bot, or enlisted in a botnet, it can significantly impact the performance of your site because it’s too busy serving the needs of the botnet. Botnets often make websites act like real people, creating fraudulent web traffic and advertising clicks that are very hard to detect. Facebook is also a popular place for botnets to hide and thrive. One recent botnet infected more than 50,000 Facebook accounts and hijacked more than 250,000 computers. If you’re unlucky to be targeted by a botnet, you’ll probably notice because access to your website will become extremely slow or stop completely as the zombie computers all obey instructions to access your website at the same time.

The best way to protect against the zombie invasion is to protect your website with multiple layers of security. You can easily safeguard your business against botnet attacks and other forms of malware with SiteLock’s comprehensive suite of web security solutions.

Google Author: Neal O’Farrell