A bot is a software application that performs tasks on command such as indexing search engines. Bots are excellent at performing repetitive tasks. However, they can be used for malicious purposes by cybercriminals such as taking control of an infected computer. Botnets are a network of private interconnected computers performing a particular task.
In the majority of cases cybercriminals use botnets in the following ways:
- Sending spam emails or other scam schemes.
- Trick users to get their hard-earned money.
- Enabling a website owner to earn money from “fake clicks.”
- Botnets also mine bitcoins.
- Launching denial of service attacks against some specified users or websites.
Online fraudsters demand money from the site owners in exchange for regaining control over their computers or sites. Cybercriminals also use botnets to power a variety of illegal scheme. For example, cyber-criminals use botnets to flood a webpage with traffic at the same time using infected computers, therefore, overloading the website and making it perform poorly and slowly or even make the webpage unreachable to users who want to visit it. Botnets are used to distribute viruses and spyware to computers. They steal personal and private information from computers such a credit card numbers, passwords and bank credential among other sensitive private information and use it to steal identities, get loans or purchase products under the user’s name.
However, botnets often attack exposed computers, here are several tips that can be used to ensure protection against bots or at least reduce the associated risks. Below are some of the tips offered by Jack Miller, the Semalt Senior Customer Success Manager:
- Install a top-rated comprehensive security software such as Norton Internet Security. This software is essential in detecting and deterring the malware, therefore, preventing unwanted access to your computer.
- The software you use has to be updated, and you can do this by configuring your software’s settings
to update automatically.
- Increase security settings on your browsers.
- Make sure you browse through secure websites.
You can do this by sticking to sites that are well known to you and the web pages that appear on the first few pages of search results. Also, avoid clicking on attachments unless you verify their sources especially in spam emails. Botnets lure users into downloading malicious software and tricking users to load the malware mostly by opening an infected attachment. Set your computer’s security settings to update automatically, to make sure you always have the most current system updates.