Botnets are commonly used to carry out cyber attacks. Certain types of cyber attacks require a collection of internet-connected devices. Hackers will initially build a botnet, after which they’ll use those devices to conduct cyber attacks. As a newcomer to the field of cybersecurity, however, you might not be familiar with botnets and how they work.

What Is a Botnet?

A botnet is a network of hijacked devices that are used in bot-related cyber attacks, such as denial-of-service (DoS) and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) cyber attacks. Some of them contain hundreds of internet-connected devices, whereas other botnets contain tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of internet-connected devices. Regardless, all botnets are a network of internet-connected devices that have been hijacked by a hacker.

How a Botnet Works

How does a botnet work exactly? Hackers must initially build a botnet by hijacking the devices of unsuspecting victims. This is typically done with the assistance of malware. The hacker will develop or purchase malware that’s capable of infecting devices and providing the hacker with remote access to those devices.

As the malware spreads, it will hijack internet-connected devices for use in the botnet. The malware — typically a trojan — will provide the hacker with remote access. The hacker will then be able to control the devices to use in a cyber attack. Each hijacked device is a bot. The hacker can control these bots remotely to perform cyber attacks like DoS and DDoS.

Signs Your Computer Is Part of a Botnet

If your computer has been hijacked and is now part of a botnet, you may notice a few signs. Slow performance is a telltale sign that your computer is part of a botnet. If your computer suddenly becomes slow or sluggish, it could be due to the botnet malware consuming system resources, such as your computer’s processing power or network bandwidth.

Suspicious processes is a sign that your computer is part of a botnet. If you notice suspicious processes or programs running on your computer that you did not install or recognize, it could be a sign of a botnet Botnets often use hidden or obfuscated processes or programs to evade detection.

High network traffic may indicate that your computer is part of a botnet. Botnets often generate a significant amount of network traffic. This is because many of them are used to spam other users’ devices. If you notice an unusually high amount of network traffic, it may be indicative of botnet activity.