By Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO, ESET
Have you ever seen posts on social networks or emails under your name that you did not send? Is your computer running slowly or do you often find your screen filled with popups? All of these things could be symptoms of infections and might indicate that your computer is part of a botnet.
But what is a botnet? A botnet is a network of computers infected with malware that responds to an attacker to perform any activity they want. These infected computers are also known as ‘bots’ or ‘zombies’ and their master is called the botmaster. The infection will enable cybercriminals to control these infected computers remotely.
How does it spread – and why?
When surfing the Internet it is very often that we download software for useful and legitimate purposes. But although some software appears to be safe, once it is installed it can actually have a malicious purpose. This is known as a trojan and is a major cause of the spread of botnets. We can find them in social networks and all over the web.
With this army of zombies, botmasters can use these networks to commit crimes such as financial frauds, malware distribution, identity theft, the mass mailing of spam and the storing of illegal content. Itit can even collapse websites from massive attacks. With a single botnet cyber-criminals can commit many crimes in one day and put users sensitive data at risk, meanwhile they often don’t even know they’re infected.
How do we protect ourselves?
Firstly, it’s important to have a security solution with a firewall to filter communications between your computer and the internet. Also, be careful when downloading apps or programs from the web by verifying they come from official, trustworthy sources. Make sure that all software is updated to the latest version,as patches will solve vulnerabilities in earlier versions.
ESET Southern Africa is a global provider of security software for enterprises and consumers whose products offer comprehensive protection against evolving computer security threats and include NOD32 Antivirus, the heart of the virus and spyware detection in ESET Smart Security, an integrated antivirus, antispyware, anti-spam and personal firewall solution.