What exactly is a botnet?
Bot, is short for robot, and a botnet is a network of computers acting as robots. Confused? Let me put it in simple words. There are plenty of bad guys out there in the Cyber world who distribute even worse software.
If you’re unlucky enough to click links or visit sites that download this malware to your computer, your computer gets infected, and is now a bot; silently working for the bad guy, sending out spam, initiating service denial attacks and phishing.
When many computers are infected and form a network, it becomes a botnet. Scary thought, huh? Not unlike ‘the attack of the zombies’!
How do you know if your computer had been ‘Zombied’?
If your computer starts working in slow motion, in spite of you not having many applications on, or if it goes on the fritz once too often, or even hangs frequently, you have reason to suspect a bot attack. [Read: 10 Symptoms of a Computer Infected with Malware]
You may also find that you’re consuming too much of your bandwidth without actually doing anything yourself. But these symptoms could also be caused by defective computer parts or software issues.
So this is what you need to do:
- Get the complete list of what’s wrong
- Allow Microsoft to solve the problem if you feel your computer has been infected.
How do you deal with this?
- Prevention is better than cure. Encrypt your passwords both at home and at work. Install firewalls and set them to ‘Maximum’ security levels, which could help in preventing hacker attacks, and watch over your network traffic. Up-to-date anti-virus is an absolute must; install spyware and malware detection software. Though there are free applications, I suggest purchasing from a reputed company like McAfee or Norton.
- Be careful where you go. Don’t click on links that appear randomly on sites if you’re not really sure where the links could take you. Most pop-up windows prompting you to download anti-virus or anti-malware software are usually malware themselves; clicking on them may lead to your computer being infected.
- Also avoid visiting porn sites, and sites dealing in pirated content; these are almost sure to carry kind of virus or malware, which will get downloaded to your computer the moment you get there. If your browser or firewall warns you about a site, it is best avoided; they may have detected malware. It’s simply not worth the risk of losing your precious data.
- Be careful of emails from unknown sources. Never click on links in such emails as these could very well be malware.
- Phishing scams typically seem to come from a bank; but if you are not a customer, don’t click a link or fill out any form, even if you are being promised millions of dollars. Never ever give out your personal information through mail. Your bank will never ask for it in this manner.
- Not all apps on Facebook or Twitter are genuine; check carefully to find out if an app is a malware scam.
- Be careful when using USB drives; they easily transmit viruses and malware.
- Regularly back up your important data, photographs etc. If the worse comes to worst, at least your data will remain safe.
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