• Richard Blech

The Continuous Threat of Botnets


Botnets are a pervasive type of cyberthreat that show no signs of waning. Threat actors are continuing to use these sophisticated types of malware, harnessing the cumulative power of thousands or millions of devices simultaneously to execute large scale DDoS attacks, bombard targets with spam, mine cryptocurrency, siphon sensitive data and more.


BOTNETS ARE THREATS INSIDE AN ORGANIZATION’S NETWORK

A botnet is a network of Internet-connected devices that have been compromised by malware. The bots, or the individual devices within that network, are under the control of a remote third party, the botmaster. From their central position, this threat actor is able to manipulate the bots.

The malware used in botnets can have varying levels of visibility. For example, for a DDoS attack, some of the malware can be used specifically for gaining control of a device, while other malware operates unobtrusively as a background process pending instructions directly from the threat actor or another bot. Additional bots can be incorporated into the botnet by exploiting website vulnerabilities, using Trojan horse malware or taking advantage of weak authentication protocols to gain access. Infected devices can circulate the malware by recruiting other devices in the surrounding network.

There are a few factors contributing to the prevalence of botnet attacks:

  • Despite the escalation of cybercrime over the past years, many online devices still have inadequate built-in, native security features because security is not prioritize during product development. IoT devices are considered ideal targets by threat actors wanting to steal data and create botnets.

  • IoT device usage, often with those devices with inadequate security, has been steadily increasing in enterprise and industrial settings.

  • As with other attack methods, botnets are being offered as a botnets-as-a-service, where botnets are sold and leased on underground online forums to entities for malicious purposes.

  • Threat actors are also taking advantage of the expanded attack surface, reduced endpoint visibility and the increase in attack vectors that has resulted from the rise of remote work and the connection between organizations’ network resources and workers’ residential networks and personal smart devices.


BOTNETS ARE PERSISTENT CYBERTHREATS

Botnets have grown in sophistication. Earlier versions of typical botnets were a group of autonomous entities that could simply install malware and replicate. Modern versions are much more efficient as connected, centrally organized applications that can leverage networks to create a powerful and resilient cyberattack tool. Consider the following:

  • The Emotet botnet, which has been called world’s largest network for seeding malware infections, has been used by cybercriminals since 2014. The botnet consist of hundreds of thousands compromised hosts that were used to send over 10 million spam and phishing emails per week. Criminal parties have used the network to install ransomware for extortion schemes and to steal data and money.

  • According to one study, Trickbot, which is operated by Russian and Eastern European cybercriminals and is considered one of the most active botnets in the world, is impacting 4 percent of organizations around the world.

  • Even though the alleged author of the Mozi botnet has been arrested, the botnet is still a prolific spreader among IoT devices, having infected an excess of 1.5 million devices so far and is expected to continue to proliferate for sometime.

  • The Meris botnet, which is breaking botnet records, has targeted financial institutions and internet service providers in the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. What begins as small botnet attacks expands in scope, size and disruption power to compel the targets to pay.


BOTNET ATTACK PREVENTION

An important component of protecting against botnets is ensuring that the organization’s devices cannot be infected. This entails:

  • Keeping software, firmware and applications updated and applying patches as soon as possible once vulnerabilities are identified. Many botnet attacks are specifically designed to exploit vulnerabilities.

  • Protecting the organization’s websites and webservers.

  • Continually training employees on how to identify phishing emails and suspicious online downloads to avoid threat actors’ easy access to devices.

  • Closely monitoring the organization’s network for unusual activities.

  • Using security solutions such as anti-malware and anti-spyware and installing firewalls at network boundaries.


MITIGATING THE IMPACT OF A BOTNET ATTACK REQUIRES DATA ENCRYPTION

When devising cybersecurity strategies, it is apparent that the dangers posed by every type of cyberthreat reinforce the necessity of data encryption. When a botnet attack is active against an organization, data encryption is a critical element of a multi-layered cybersecurity defense, especially when the solutions used provide quantum-safe encryption. For example, XSOC CORP’s 4-Pillars can secure data transmissions from IoT devices, websites and smart devices in a LAN or WAN environment. It can also help mitigate against DDoS attacks.

Organizations have use the solution that ensure that if threat actors are able to circumvent one security layer, the next layer is there to prevent access to data. XSOC CORP cryptography and encryption solutions keep data undecipherable and unusable to everyone but the authorized user.


XSOC CORP SAFEGUARDS DATA FROM BOTNETS

XSOC CORP creates solutions that can help you maintain the integrity of your digital data in the face of constant and invasive cyberattacks. And we do so by making sure the only people who are able to see the data are the intended authorized parties. To learn how XSOC CORP solutions can be integrated into your existing cybersecurity framework to protect one of your organization’s digital data, speak with one of our representatives for an in-depth demonstration.