Malware comes in many different forms. While some forms of malware are designed to steal your data, others work by hijacking your computer for use in a botnet. Known as botnet malware, it’s a serious cyber threat. If your computer becomes infected with botnet malware, it may be used to carry out other types of cyber attacks against unsuspecting victims. What is botnet malware exactly?

An Introduction to Botnet Malware

Botnet malware is malicious software that’s designed to hijack your computer. It’s used in cyber attacks involving botnets. A botnet, of course, is a collection or network of computers that are infected with botnet malware. The botnet malware allows a hacker to take control of a computer from a remote location. He or she can then use the computer to perform cyber attacks involving botnets.

The Mechanics of Botnet Malware

There are many types of botnet malware, some of which work in different ways. With that said, they all provide a hacker with control over your computer. The hacker doesn’t just have access to your computer. If your computer is infected with botnet malware, he or she will be able to control it.

Botnet malware is most commonly used in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. DDoS attacks are typically carried out to overload a victim’s network with excessive traffic. With a botnet, a hacker can use the infected computers to send requests to a victim’s network. Some botnets can have hundreds of thousands of infected computers, each of which is able to send a request. With all of these requests flooding the network, a DDoS attack can cause severe performance issues or even full-blown outages.

How to Protect Against Botnet Malware

Because it’s malware, botnet malware can often be prevented using antivirus software. Antivirus software doesn’t just catch viruses; it’s able to identify and remove — or quarantine — most forms of malicious software, including botnet malware. It will scan your computer while looking for signs of malicious software. If there’s botnet malware on your computer, the anti-virus software will remove it.

Maintaining up-to-date software can lower your risk of being targeted with botnet malware. Many hackers exploit vulnerabilities in old versions of software to deploy botnet malware. Maybe your operating system (OS) is outdated, or perhaps you’re using an old version of a web browser. Regardless, running old versions of software can leave your computer exposed to botnet malware.

Monitoring network traffic can also prove useful in defending against botnet malware. It your computer is infected with botnet malware, a hacker may use it to spam a victim’s network. Monitoring network traffic allows you to see these connections.