Bot attacks are particularly terrifying for someone who hardly knows anything about them. If you are aware of how bot attacks work and why cybercriminals use them, it is easier to deal with the problem. Someone who doesn’t know much about bot attacks is more likely to panic.
The last thing you want to do during a bot attack is to give the criminals money. If cybercriminals use bots to shut down your computers, they are looking for money. People do not perform sophisticated botnet attacks only for the sake of harassing people. They want you to pay them money to leave you alone.
You should never pay them. If you give money, they will ask for more money. Other hackers may become aware that they can get money out of you. Never give any money to hackers – they will only harass you more if you do this.
There are many ways to deal with a bot attack when it happens, plus many ways to prevent a botnet attack. Prevention is the best idea. You can use many precautions to make a bot attack unlikely, and you can install powerful software that can detect a bot attack.
What are bots used for?
Bots are computer programs that perform tasks automatically, sometimes including tasks that a human might perform. For example, you could program a password guessing bot to break into people’s accounts by using common passwords.
Not all bots are malicious – there are many uses for computer programs that perform automated tasks. For example, search engines use bots. A search engine’s bots will follow links from one website to another, always looking for newly created websites. When they find a page, they automatically rank for different search keywords.
The bot judges the quality of the content on the site, measures how quickly the site loads, and ranks it on the first page for popular keywords if the site seems useful to users. It would cost a fortune to index and rank websites manually, so programs do it.
Other bots are less benign (for example, they might spam comments sections with affiliate links to products) or malicious (they might try to hack into accounts, or worse). Bots are a powerful tool, both for legitimate and malicious uses. Work that would take humans a huge amount of time to do can be done very quickly by automated programs.
What are bot attacks?
Bot attacks are when cybercriminals use bots to attack individuals and businesses. They can shut down a computer network and make it impossible to run a business.
A business owner might wake up to find that they are locked out of all of their computers. They won’t be able to use their hardware or access any of their information. A business can lose a great deal of money each day if it cannot operate, which can be a very stressful situation for the owner.
Some hackers are more sophisticated than others. A single hacker might use a program he finds online and not know much about what they are doing. A group of hackers might be much more sophisticated and might be able to program bots themselves.
While some hackers can program their way around software that defends against bot attacks, most are not a match for defensive software and ordinary precautions. Most hackers are relatively unsophisticated and can be defeated. If you protect your business, they will go after a softer target instead.
Many hackers use only basic tools that don’t require much skill. Not every hacker is an expert programmer, and you can attack businesses without knowing how to write code at all.
You can buy the botkits online that help you attack businesses with little skill. It is easy to go on the dark web and buy software that lets you attack businesses without knowing much. Only the fear of getting caught and arrested deters this kind of cybercrime.
What are botnets?
A botnet (or “robot network”) is a group of computers that work together to complete a task or a series of tasks. You do not always need a lot of different computers or IP addresses to create a botnet. You can use malware to infect a lot of different computers and use these computers to attack businesses.
Someone might not even know that their computer is involved in bot attacks. Your computer might be involved in bot attacks without you even knowing about it. Your computer might be infected with malware that attacks a business you don’t even know about.
The biggest botnets are enormous – millions of computers might be involved. These botnets are capable of very sophisticated attacks. However, you can still defend against them with some basic precautions and the right software.
What are DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks?
DDoS attacks involve shutting down servers by overwhelming them with traffic. A bot network can send a huge number of fake emails, click onto many different pages on a site continuously, download things from a site as often as possible, etc. An enormous amount of traffic can make a site slow to a crawl or stop working entirely.
The more bots that are involved, the harder it is to stop a DDoS attack. If the attack comes from a single IP address, you can easily block it. This is not so easy if there are thousands of computers and thousands of IP addresses.
It is not always easy to differentiate between malicious bot traffic and legitimate traffic. Sometimes, it is not easy to block bots without blocking legitimate users. Hackers want business owners to feel overwhelmed and to pay money to leave them alone. When hackers promise to leave you alone after you pay them, it is very likely a false promise. They will use this as an opportunity to ask for even more money.
Real examples of DDoS attacks?
There are countless examples. Many large companies have been shut down temporarily by hackers. Most bot attacks are relatively unsophisticated and are attacks you can avoid yourself. However, very advanced bot attacks can shut down large companies despite their defenses.
One large business that was shut down was GitHub, the victim of the largest DDoS attacks. In 2018, hackers sent an enormous amount of fake traffic – more than in any other similar attack – at the website and successfully shut it down.
Other recent attacks included shutting down DYN (a service provider for Reddit and other important websites) and another major attack that took down Spamhaus. People have been using fake traffic attacks, in various forms, for decades.
Why do hackers use bots to attack businesses?
Again, they are trying to make money illegally. You are much less likely to encounter a hacker who vandalizes websites only for the fun of it. Hackers will disable a business and then extort money from the owner.
Some hackers also use bots to extract info they can use to steal money. They might be looking for personal information, bank information, and credit card numbers. The motivation is most likely to steal money – they are less likely to vandalize businesses for fun or shut down competitors.
What tricks can you use to avoid hackers?
The little things matter when avoiding cybercrime. A lot of hackers use very unsophisticated methods, such as guessing passwords. They might use a bot to guess passwords for many different accounts.
Using a password that is hard to guess and includes capitals, numbers, or symbols can protect you. When you sign up for a new website, don’t use the same password you always use.
If you use the same password you use for your bank, they might be able to log in to your bank account and steal your money. Be particularly careful with passwords for cryptocurrency wallets if you use cryptocurrency.
If anyone steals your digital currency, you will probably never get it back again. It is very hard for law enforcement to go after people who steal cryptocurrency accounts. It is much less dangerous to have your credit card number end up in the wrong hands.
Sometimes, a hacker will break into a company by calling an employee, lying about who they are, and asking for a password. If you teach your employees to be a little bit suspicious, you can deter many attacks. Teach your employees to report anything suspicious.
Regular antivirus and anti-malware software can work. You can protect your business from spyware that will look for passwords and credit card numbers as long as you keep it Up-To-Date. Install the software, run the antivirus and anti-malware scans, and download the updates. It works if you use it properly.
Remember that malware includes ransomware. If particularly bad malware infects your computers, it will lock you out of them. It is a hassle to get your computers back after malware infects them.