The Battle of the Botnets and How It Affects Your Business

By | Jun 20, 2012

The term botnet is popular in the virus-writing world, but for businesses it's an unfamiliar term. Hackers express their dislike for company policy by bringing down the company website using viruses, Trojan horses, and denial-of-service attacks. Bringing down popular websites has made the news, but the way the hackers bring down the sites is not well known.

Bots, networks of infected computers, are used to perform a denial-of-service on these websites. The malicious code floods a server with spoofed traffic and renders the server unable to handle regular traffic. Unknown to people who have a virus installed on their computer, they participate in bringing down these servers. These attacks can be a problem for businesses that allow employees to browse the Internet, because a virus can also infect a business computer, giving control to a hacker, unbeknownst to the computer user and the IT manager.

The Danger of Botnets to Midsize Businesses

A virus takes control of the user's computer behind the scenes, so even while an employee works, the virus can be controlled by the hacker. The software lays dormant until the virus creator directs the computer to join other infected computers in sending commands to bring down the remote network, making the infected computer part of a botnet. The user is unaware of the problem except for more bandwidth usage that might slow down the user's Internet connection.

According to Computerworld, 5 million computers were infected during the first quarter of 2012. Bots have cost businesses thousands of dollars in protection software and the cost associated with cleaning up the software installed on the business computers.

Fighting Botnets

To reduce the number of virus attacks on US businesses, the federal government is helping to eliminate botnets by using "listening" techniques to warn computer users when their machine has been infected by malware. In addition, it is working with private companies to educate business owners and to organize programs in which businesses can share information on particular viruses and best practices for preventing and getting rid of them.

The first step in ensuring corporate computers are safe is antivirus software installed on the computer. In addition, network admins should update their virus definition files regularly. The second step in protecting computers is through the installation of firewall software. Firewall software is installed by default on a Windows computer, but most corporate IT managers prefer to install firewall software on the main router used to connect the company to the Internet. The length of a password can greatly increase the security of the website, internal network, and protect the company documentation.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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