Since the Internet has become a staple of businesses and homes we've become familiar with the term "virus" and what it means from a technology perspective. In recent years viruses have evolved into more powerful "botnets." While we've discussed the effects of botnets several times in this blog we've never defined the term.
Botnet is the term used for a group of malicious software that runs autonomously and automatically. Infected machines create a network of zombie computers that can be controlled by the botnet creator, or bot-maker. These bot-makers use the zombie machines to infect additional computers and take advantage of vulnerabilities in other networks. They often sell the rights to this "dark cloud" of zombie computers to cybercriminals, who then steel personal information from individual users or customer data from business networks.
How to avoid a botnet
The best way to avoid accidentally downloading malicious content on your network is to have a properly configured firewall and spam-blocking technologies. Another technique would be to remember to never download anything if you don't know what the source is, especially if you received a file or item in your email. Spam is the most common way for viruses to spread. We cannot completely stop the spread and creation of botnets, it is too profitable a business. But we can protect our networks with strong network security tools.