What is a botnet?
A botnet is a distributed collection of connected computer programs, known as bots, that form a network that can be used for nefarious means.
How is a botnet created?
Software programs are created which exploit security vulnerabilities to get themselves installed on computers connected to the internet. Very much like computer viruses, trojan horses and worm programs.
Once installed they make connections to a remote server using stealth techniques and encrypting their communications. Once connected to the remote server they wait for instructions, which may be just to go to sleep and to reconnect at a later date and time.
What is a botnet used for?
Botnets are used to provide the botnet creator (and their customers) with a means to utilise a great amount of distributed computing power to carry out activities such as emailing spam, carrying out denial of service attacks, distributing malware, or any other activity that serves their purpose.
For the individual personal computer user a botnet program should be treated as just another piece of malware or computer virus. Make sure you have a good firewall installed, plus good anti-virus and anti-spyware or malware software that is up-to-date and also looks for botnet programs on your computer.
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Article date: 27th February 2011