Cyberattacks and security threats can take many forms, but zombie botnets are particularly malicious and can often go completely undetected, even long-term.
Here we will look at zombie cyberattacks, what they are, how they work, why criminals use them, what to look out for and how to protect against botnet attacks.
What Is a Zombie Botnet Attack?
Botnets have been the most prolific channel for malware attacks, affecting millions of victims in the last decade.
Criminals have come to recognize the value in overtaking not one computer, but in networking multiple zombie computers, orchestrating large-scale malicious attacks. This is what’s known as a Zombie botnet.
Botnets can infiltrate and infect cutting-edge technologies and devices, including the Internet of Things (IoT), whether it’s at home, in the office, or even in secure areas. Open-source and unsecured devices are often at the most significant risk.
How Do Zombie Cyberattacks Work?
Have you ever asked yourself where all the spam is coming from? You might be surprised to learn that it’s usually coming from thousands of computers just like your own.
These computers aren’t unusable or dysfunctional as you might expect. The users can still use them, and they may not even be aware that their computer has been infected with malware.
The only noticeable change to one’s machine is that it might occasionally run slower than usual. But botnets are not resourced hogs and can thrive and function without using all available system resources. Malware can even mask itself and go undetected long-term.
And this means that people don’t always know when their computer has been taken over!
What Devices Are Most Vulnerable to Zombie Botnet Attacks?
IoT devices are usually the most vulnerable, as they lack proper cybersecurity. Cameras, routers, voice controllers, and other devices. Remember that you won’t always know when this has happened – because, for the most part, infected devices continue to function normally. It only takes minutes for bots to infiltrate your devices.
Why Do Criminals Leverage Botnet Attacks?
As you can imagine, money is one of the main reasons criminals engage in botnet attacks. To break it down further, here is an overview of criminal intent:
1. Attacking Legitimate Web Services & Networks
Botnet attacks can flood servers with traffic loads they can’t handle, slowing down the company’s operation or sabotaging website uptime. It can even shut down the service completely.
2. Extorting Money from Unsuspecting Victims
Criminals looking to damage or takedown particular services, companies, or even individuals may resort to extortion. This usually takes the form of “we’ve taken control of your website, and you will pay if you want to keep it online.”
Hackers in this category sometimes take the form of hacker-activists (or “hacktivists”) who have a specific political agenda, or even those in foreign military and intelligence.
Criminal organizations will sometimes even lease their botnet to other hackers for extra profit.
3. Stealing Personal & Financial Information
Various spam, scam, and phishing tactics are used to fool consumers into spending or giving up money they will never get back.
Other personal information may also be collected from users, enabling hackers to run up charges or even loans under that user’s name.
What Zombies Botnet Should I Look Out For?
All botnet security attacks can compromise devices connected to the internet.
But some of the scariest, most malicious zombie botnets include:
Again, this does not suggest that these are the only ones you should watch out for. You’ll want to secure all your devices and run diagnostics on them periodically to ensure proper protection.
How Do I Secure My Systems from Zombie Cyberattacks?
Here are a few tactics to ensure the security of your devices:
● Change default usernames and passwords. Usernames and passwords set by manufacturers are typically vulnerable to attacks, as botnets often target these specifically.
● Install antivirus software. If your device doesn’t already have antivirus software installed, now would be the time to set it up.
● Set your antivirus software to update automatically. To protect against the latest malware attacks, ensure that your antivirus software keeps all virus definitions updated on autopilot.
● Check for and install the operating system and browser updates. Most software applications release new patches to be installed ongoingly.
● Don’t open internet links or emails from sources you don’t trust. This can put you at risk.
Hackers, criminals, and malware developers alike are always looking for new ways to exploit security leaks. Take advantage of the best internet security products available and keep it updated to ensure viruses and malware are detected early, so you can stop botnet attacks dead in their tracks.