Botnets 101: The Borg Threat


Data breaches are becoming an ever-increasing concern for organizations large and small. Each quarter, stunning news stories revealing the exposure of sensitive customer data dominates headlines. These events erode consumer trust and cost companies millions. Understanding the factors that lead to data breach vulnerability is a significant step in reducing the risk of such security breaches.

What is a Botnet?

Simply put, a botnet is a collection of computers communicating with one another via the internet to combine their processing power to assist with extensive or repetitive tasks. Not all botnets are harmful. A similar model has been used to crowd-source processing power to aid in scientific research. These are active, volunteer botnets. The computers and their users are aware of their presence and activity. Zombie armies are those that should concern anyone managing IT threats. An outside user manipulates these bots. Often the computers in the zombie army give no sign of their engagement in the operation.

How Do Hackers Use Botnets?

The famed DDoS attacks use a voluntary botnet system to bombard a site with traffic, effectively blocking all legitimate traffic and shutting down the site.

Decryption is time-intensive in the current fight between it and encryption. Brute force hacks can be completely impossible in a human’s lifespan even with massive botnets. Other methods like rainbow cracks (pre-hashed password) and dictionary attacks (limiting possible entries to typical user passwords) are used to bring down the time, but they still benefit from the enhanced processing power of botnets.

Data Breaches & Botnets

The companies who have suffered the most severe data breaches have in common a lack of strong defense and detection methods in place to spot and eliminate bots operating on machines within their network. Some industries have shown greater resilience to botnet attacks, like Finance. Others have proved to be particularly susceptible.

What’s At Risk?

Data breaches emerging from botnet utilization put consumer and client data at risk. Botnets can redirect web visitors to alternate websites in an attempt to steal information, hide within legitimate networks to conduct illegal activities, bounce spam or conceal communications, steal sensitive information from databases, and more. Responsive security is constantly reviewing threats, scouring the network, and repairing compromised machines proactively.

Comments are closed.