Magazine article Security Management

Spot the Bot

Magazine article Security Management

Spot the Bot

Article excerpt

A "bot" is a small software program that is often used on Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels to gather information or interact with human users. Some bots on IRC are used by hackers to control "botnets," or a series of tens of thousands of compromised computers, according to Know Your Enemy: Tracking Botnets, a paper from The Honeynet Project & Research Alliance.

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Botnets pose a huge threat because they can be used to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on any chosen target. The paper explains that even a "relatively small botnet with only 1,000 bots" can carry out an effective DDoS attack because home PCs have enough combined bandwidth to overwhelm "the Internet connection of most corporate systems."

Botnets can also be used to facilitate spamming and to sniff traffic to look for clear-text data that passes by a compromised machine. In addition, they can be programmed to carry out keylogging, to attack other IRC channels, and to perform other malicious behavior. …

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