Botnet attack: Definition and Details

Botnet attacks have proved to have a devastating effect on the victims. Besides, it seems not hard for criminals to build the botnets or to rent them to execute the attack. Therefore, neglecting the threat is not wise!

Botnet attack: Definition.

A Botnet attack is a cyber assault in which the attackers leverage a group of infected devices (malware) programmed to execute malicious tasks against a target that can be a server, all types of websites, and other devices. By multiplying the attack sources, criminals can scale the aggression and make it harder to stop. Cybercriminals frequently use botnet attacks to deploy Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, scraping, data breaches, hijacking, malware distribution, sabotage of services, and more illegal actions. Experience proves that both enterprises and individuals can be targeted.

What is a botnet?

Botnet means robot network. A botnet is a group of robot devices commanded by malicious people or an individual. Frequently, criminals use malware to infect as many devices as possible to recruit the robots that will shape their herd (network). Once infected, these devices become robots or zombies that can be remotely commanded by the attacker.

Besides being a target of a Botnet attack, right now, your own devices could be part of a herd and used to attack a victim without your consent. That’s why we all must be aware of malware and protect our devices.

A botnet can include all types of connected devices like computers, smartphones, and IoT (Internet of Things: security cameras, smart lights, watches, thermostats, home voice controllers, cooling and heating systems, fitness trackers, etc.). No matter the geographical location of your device, it can be infected and recruited into a botnet.

The use of a botnet can be itself an attack or a tool to boost the power of another type of attack.

How does a Botnet attack work?

A Botnet attack works through a network of robots. Recruiting the zombies takes a few steps:

  1. First, the attacker looks for a useful vulnerability to expose users to malware.
  2. Second, the infection occurs, so the criminal controls the device.
  3. Third, activation of the whole botnet can now execute the tasks commanded by the criminal.

In a DDoS attack, the attacker will order the herd to send huge amounts of payloads or requests to a specific victim to saturate it, disrupt it, and shut it down.

In a data breach, the botnet will be programmed to steal valuable and confidential information from the target (intellectual property, financial details, banking information, etc.).

In a Spam attack, the task of the robots will be to spread spam messages massively. A robust botnet can send billions of malicious messages per day.

Every compromised device can be commanded to monitor the user’s activity to scan financial information, banking details, and passwords.

Recommended article: DNSSEC: Everything you need to know


Botnet attacks are happening very frequently. By understanding the enemy better, you can build a security strategy to prevent or fight in case of attack.

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