What is a Botnet and How Does it Work?

As we see, the levels of cybercrime continue to be on the rise, and we can say that botnets are the major threats when it comes to cybersecurity. Derived from the word robot and network, botnets are usually defined as a collection of internet-connected devices that are infected by a common type of malware. These devices may include servers, personal computers, the internet of things or even mobile phones. 

When these devices become infected by a common type of malware, it ends up controlling the devices. Many users usually don’t realize when their systems become infected. Cybercriminals, on the hand, take advantage of controlling the infected devices using the botnets remotely. Cybercriminals use these devices for specific functions while hiding their malicious activities from the user.

Examples of Botnets

There are various examples of botnet attacks such as; the Zeus malware, the Srizbi botnet, Game-over Zeus, Methbot, and Mirai. Botnets are mainly used to send spam emails to unsuspecting users, ad fraud campaigns which are geared towards engaging the user, selling and renting botnets, and generating of malicious traffic for DDoS attacks.

How do Botnets Work?

To better understand how botnets work, it is good to keep in mind that botnets are an army of network robots that are used to commit cybercrime. Mostly, the botnet malware looks for exposed devices across the internet instead of targeting specific companies, industries or individuals.

When a vulnerable device is detected, botnet infections are then spread through malware. The botnet malware automatically scans the systems and devices for shared vulnerabilities in hopes of infecting as many devices as possible.

Once the attack on the desired number of devices is accomplished, attackers can now take control of the bots using different approaches, such as client-server approach, command-and-control server approach, or peer-to-peer approach.

How to Protect Yourself fromBotnet Attacks

To completely protect your devices from botnet attacks, you need a comprehensive strategy. You should be able to practice safe surfing habits. Installing antivirus protection in your devices can also help in keeping your devices safe from malware attacks.

Below are some of the preventive measures that you can adopt to keep botnets at bay.

  • Regularly Update Your Operating System

Keeping your operating system updated is one sure way of preventing malware from attacking your system. This is because software developers usually know early in advance when threats are likely to arise. As such, they are able to activelycombat these malwares as they arise. To make sure that your OS is updated, simply set your OS to update itself automatically. You can also make sure that you are running on the latest version of the software.

  • Install an Antivirus Software

To prevent and eliminate botnets, it is good to install an antivirus to your device. Getting an antivirus that is designed to offer protection to all your devices and not just your laptop is preferable. For example, Kaspersky is one of the best antivirus as it provides you with a comprehensive scope that is designed to cover all your devices. 

  • Avoid Sharing Networks and Downloading Files from P2P

As earlier discussed, it is clear that botnets use file sharing and P2P networks to infect computers with malware. Before opening and downloading any file,first, scan it through to see if it’s infected. Also, you can look for other safer alternatives that you can use when transferring files.

  • Avoid Phishing and Spam Emails 

Many viruses will find their way to your computer through spam and phishing emails. Make it a habit to never open any attachment from an unknown source. Since bots use data that is collected from various institutions, it is also good to scrutinize and analyze emails sent from family and even friends before clicking on them. Remember an email from a close friend can be a botnet in disguise ready to attack your device once you click on it.

  • Avoid Opening Suspicious Links

Another way that botnets find their way into your devices is through links to malicious websites. Avoid clicking on any suspicious link without first examining them thoroughly. You can check the genuineness of a link by hovering your cursor over the hypertext. Check where the URL is directed. Usually, malicious links will link you to message boards, pop-up ads, and YouTube comments.


A botnet attack can result in your personal data falling into the wrong hands and being used to commit crimes. The best way to protect yourself from these botnet attacks is by putting proactive measures into place. 

The fact that the internet of things is gradually increasing is a clear indication that the potential power and size for botnets is also growing. Consider applying the above preventive measures to protect your devices, data and even your identity.