What Are Botnets?


Botnets are a network of infected computers, or bots, under the control of a single party, known as a “botnet master”. Hackers infect computers with malware that allows them to remotely operate infected devices as bots. A botnet master can command every device from one central point to perform a coordinated attack. Some botnets consist of thousands — or sometimes, even millions — of infected devices.

Botnet herders use botnets to perform automated attacks including application DDoS and account takeover.

Application DDoS: Fraudsters deploy botnets on web properties of online businesses. Botnets slow down web and mobile applications and affect critical business functions. Botnet attacks exhaust and damage servers, applications, and database resources.

Account Takeover: Fraudsters deploy botnets to perform credential stuffing and brute force attacks. Attackers use stolen credentials to gain account access, carry out unauthorized activities, and steal PII (personally identifiable information).

Many enterprises try to devise in-house solutions to detect and block bots and botnets, but it’s usually a futile endeavor, not to mention a poor use of time and resources. This is because bot developers can change their bots and botnets to evade security measures commonly used to block them, including in-house solutions and WAFs.

Advanced bots today leverage hijacked residential IP addresses and large datacenters to carry out ‘low and slow’ attacks using large numbers of IP addresses (but just a few hits from each one) to evade detection from systems such as WAFs that rely on IP address blacklists and access control mechanisms. This is why dedicated bot management solutions are considered the best option for enterprises that encounter large volumes of bot traffic.

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