To avoid getting caught up in a botnet, first you need to know what one is. The first part of the term, “bot” refers to a computer, short for “robot.” The latter part of the term, “net” refers to a network of infected computers that a hacker links together. Hackers use their botnets to run applications on the systems without the computers’ owners knowing anything about it.
If you’re not careful online, your computer could end up being one of the bots – also known as “zombies” – in a malicious botnet. Any damage caused by the malicious activity may lead back to your IP address and to you. There’s also a more immediate danger: A hacker that has access to your computer also has access to all the valuable personal data, from tax returns to bank account log-in credentials, that it stores.
Keeping all of your computer software and your operating system updated at all times is critical to securing your system and data. Anything short of the highest security standards and your computer may become a bot, sending out spam emails, attacking and recruiting other computers into the botnet and spreading viruses.
If you’ve noticed that your computer has been running more slowly, it may already be part of a botnet. Take action immediately to run your anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware scans. But, be aware that some botnets can avoid detection. So always use cautious behavior when browsing the Internet and interacting with others online. It’s easier to steer clear of danger than to go back later and try to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.