What is a Botnet - Why do I care?
Today every business is an internet business. The performance of any business is directly related to the capability and performance of IT. Therefore, we must all take cyber security seriously.
Let’s start with a botnet by breaking down the word itself. The first syllable, “bot” is short for robot. The second syllable “net” is from the word network. A botnet is formed when a hacker writes a computer program that will breach security on a single computer. It does not stop there. This computer program called a virus has the capability to take over that computer that it just hacked into. It does not stop there either because this is not good enough for the cybercriminal. With a botnet, the virus will move from one computer to another, take control of each and then connect all of the disparate computers into a powerful system or network of control. This is known as a botnet.
Cyber criminals are control freaks. They will sometimes create a virus that controls thousands or even millions of computers. The more computers that the criminal gets control over the bigger their botnet becomes and the more power they have to do harm. There has been a bit of glory given in the past and even today for a hacker that has this capability to do harm on a mega scale. Today they can even change the course of the entire world. The hacker keeps going and revels in the number of controlled computers that they can get into their botnet. When the botnet gets very large it is referred to as a zombie network and is sometimes sold to other cyber criminals so that they can grow their own botnet or zombie.
Every business, every home and every internet device is vulnerable. The internet of things has fueled flames for botnets and zombies and is yet one more avenue for the cybercriminal to get control over devices, access proprietary/personal information, to sell the information, propagate SPAM and more.
Installing security protection on your computer and business systems is crucial but many do not consider their phones, their XBOX, or other internet enabled devices such as thermostats, cars, lights, refrigerators and other appliances. All can be connected through the “Internet of Things” and all can be broken into to become a part of or an avenue to expand a botnet.
Education and Awareness
The public is not aware. Last year a cyber-attack occurred that would randomly call people and ask questions like “Can you hear me ok?”. When the person answers “YES”, then the program records your voice and uses it to confirm the opening of a new credit card or another potentially dangerous ploy. The public should become aware of the risk and how to avoid cyber-attacks with security monitoring apps, and to keep apprised of what is critical information and not give away key information unintendedly.
Business and government agencies will need to be willing to change their culture. They will need to integrate teams of specialists, build resilient/rugged software and more. Every business and their employees should be cyber experts. More than that, they will have to CHANGE the way that they think about requirements, development and deployment of products and services. They will need to consider skillsets for new roles such as the DevOps Test Engineer (DTE) and more. Educate yourself and inspire others. It is a new world!
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