What Is a Botnet, Its Architecture and How Does It Work?

A botnet is a collection of internet-connected devices, including personal computers (PCs), servers, mobile devices, and internet of things (IoT) devices unbeknownst to their owner.

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What is a Botnet? How does it work? Definition & Examples | Gridinsoft

What is a Botnet?

March 13, 2023

Have you ever seen bots attack? It can obtain tens of forms, whole flooding websites, certain users on social networks, or videos on video hostings. We usually ignore them, but it is essential to remember that they are always around us. So how do botnets work, and who uses them?

The first thing you need to know is that cybercriminals are not the only burglars who may need a botnet. Often, botnets launch a spam campaign on someone’s page on social networks or do it under someone’s video on YouTube. Of course, both cybercrimes and spamming are unwanted, but the latter is usually rated as a joke or petty dirty trick.

All botnets are different but have a common thing - software that unites the computer into a single network. Usually, for this purpose, botnet creators use backdoor viruses. Of course, they may use any other virus which can modify the networking settings and grant remote access - remote access trojans and stealers, for example. But statistics show that backdoors are preferred - maybe because they are designed for this purpose.

Through the backdoor, crooks change your system settings and networking configurations. They add a specific connection to their command server, use the console command, disable your antivirus, and, finally, download the particular toolkit, which allows them to “wake” your computer and force it to act as they want.

Botnet Architecture
Botnet Architecture

Why do cyber cybercriminals need a botnet?

As you read, botnets are called to conduct spamming activity. All DDoS attacks and effective spamming campaigns are made with the use of botnets. The network, consisting of fully-controlled computers with a centralized control center, is highly effective. Just imagine - you have an army 100% controlled by you, and you pay nothing to manage all of them - only usual Internet bills. Yes, on Darknet, you may find offers to rent a botnet, but often, these networks are used by the hackers who created them.

The exact purpose of the attacks, performed with botnets’ help, is profit, committing revenge, or creating an illusion. While botnet-based attacks’ first and second reasons can easily be understood, “creating the illusion” must be explained.

Some political parties or opinion leaders sometimes get into a situation when they must ensure their audience that many people support their opinions. People sometimes make conclusions based on the opinions of other people. However, they rarely think that the “crowd” they see and follow may be illusionary. Botnets are “hired” by unscrupulous mass-media companies or opinion leaders to create an illusion that many people support, for example, the following legislation changes or government changes, which are implemented without democratic voting.

Botnet activity in 2023:

How can I understand that my computer is a part of a botnet?

Hackers who created botnets have no reason to ensure that a specific user whose PC is in the botnet has already detected that he is hacked. When they have thousands of computers in their network, losing a single PC or even ten ones will not significantly affect them. They may start botnet activity even when you are using your computer. Hence, any strange activity among the listed below is a reason to scan your computer for possible backdoors. Here are the typical signs which indicate that your PC is a part of a botnet:

  • The mouse pointer moves autonomously;
  • You can see the console windows opening chaotically;
  • A browser window opens without your intention;
  • You see the 404 error when trying to open the websites, and you can reach this site from another device;
  • For laptops: your battery begins uncharging much faster than usual, without any updates in software or hardware or changes in the program you usually run;
  • For users with metered connections: traffic is consumed extremely fast by the app you did not use.

At least two of these signs are enough to consider that someone else is using your computer. Don’t panic - crooks who added your computer to the botnet are likely not interested in your data or other sensitive information. All you have to do is to launch anti-malware software, perform the scan and remove the threat. Although the virus can suspend Microsoft Defender, it can barely disable third-party security tools.

How can I protect my system from turning into a part of a botnet?

It is tough to predict from where the backdoor virus will try to attack your system. Of course, botnets are created not only with backdoors; as mentioned, RATs and stealers are also in this party. Nonetheless, even system administrators can create only passive barriers against viruses. They will be effective until you open the enormous gate for any type of malware - the web browser.

To make your system protected, you need to use anti-malware or antivirus software with a proactive protection function. Security tools with this feature scan the activity of each running application and will detect malware by its behavior. Proactive protection is the most effective solution against backdoors. GridinSoft Anti-Malware is a security tool that can offer you this feature.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is botnet a DDoS?
DDoS attack uses one machine to perform its tasks. These tasks include detecting software vulnerabilities and overflowing the target resource with query packages. On the other hand, a DDoS attack uses several devices to fulfill its goals; that's where it needs botnets. Because of that, botnets are not one infected computer but a whole network of infected devices. This leads to the conclusion that botnets are tools that can be purchased to perform a successful DDoS attack.
Are botnet attacks common?
It's more like yes than no. A botnet DDoS attack is a very common attack that can overflow the service with web traffic, eventually leading to its failure. It is very profitable and successful for hackers, so this attack is constant.
What is botnet malware on mobile?
Smartphones are a thing that every Internet user has, so cyber criminals take the opportunity to spread their infections to them as well. Botnets are not only a network of infected computers but also a network of infected mobile devices that are distributed by the type of malware without the knowledge of their owner. So if any protection does not protect your device, bots can also get to your mobile device.
What is the giant botnet?
Srizbi BotNet is considered to be the most common botnet that makes sending spam to the largest audience of users. These botnets are infected with Trojan Srizbi, which gives the command about sending spam emails. The size of Srizbi is about 450,000 compromised devices. It is also known that the botnet can send about 60 trillion Janka daily threats. This botnet showed a significant decline of about 60% in the year.
How can botnets affect your computer?
Infecting a computer for a botnet is not a difficult task. It should only capture the device and then perform all its unauthorized actions. The latter should include: launching attacks such as "denial of service," sending spam emails, distributing malware, and so on.