Oct 31

2017

Botnet Tricks and Security Treats

By Georganne Benesch

“Cybercriminals are spreading faster than the hordes of the undead in Zombietown, USA”, writes security blogger  Tom Fecarotta.

And so maybe it’s not a coincidence that Halloween falls on the last day of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Regardless, we hope that the ghouls and ghosts knocking on your door are only after chocolate bars and gummy bears.

For cybercriminals, ‘treats’ come in many flavors: stolen identities, pilfered financial data, ransoms and IP theft. And these hackers leverage all sorts of ‘tricks’ to wreak havoc for individuals and businesses alike. Given that some cyberattacks resemble a Zombie Apocalypse and require a heroic response—Halloween seems like a good time to mention one of the spookiest of cyber threats.

Zombie armies are taking over the Internet in the form of massive botnets looking for vulnerable devices across the Internet, with the objective of infecting as many as possible. A botnet hoard of compromised computers, all corrupted with the same malware, gives a hacker remote control of these computers, hijacking them without their owners’ knowledge. A bot ‘herder’ can send instructions to this network of computers for multiple purposes: access credit card numbers and banking credentials, launch DDoS attacks, deliver spam and more.

Botnets may be the most damaging security threats and the most difficult to eradicate. In 2015 the FBI testified in a U.S. Senate hearing that there were an estimated $110 billion in losses to victims globally. They reported that 500 million computers fall prey to botnet attackers annually, or approximately 18 victims infected per second. And it only continues to get worse, especially as IoT devices proliferate.

 

Be a Superhero

In pop culture, it’s tough to destroy a Zombie army, and in the real-world efforts to bring down botnets are normally undertaken by law enforcement. So, what can your organization’s own Justice League of IT and security pros do to safeguard data?

Although it may not be possible to prevent or even block a botnet driven attack, taking a comprehensive approach to data security, including implementing workflows and solutions dedicated to discovery, control and remediation, can go a long way towards minimizing the damage. Watch for future posts where we’ll discuss the importance of visibility, detection, identification and real-time monitoring, especially as it relates to your IoT applications and devices.

In the meantime, enjoy this little treat where the CDC gives their advice on how to be prepared for a Zombie Apocalypse!

 

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