It can be confusing when we hear the word “bot.” What comes to mind? For many people, the word brings chatbots to mind. That’s completely normal and to be expected, especially since AI chatbots have been in the news so often in recent months. But that’s not the kind of bot we’re talking about in this article.
The bot we’re talking about is a malicious program that can cause a significant risk to your business. These are called malware bots.
What are Malware Bots?
First, we’ll explain what a bot is. “Bot” is short for robot; you may also hear bots referred to as Internet bots, spiders, crawlers, or web bots. A bot is a software program that can run automated, pre-defined repetitive tasks.
The software can mimic human user behaviour; however, bots are much faster than humans. They can be quite useful for certain functions, including customer service, indexing search engines, and more. Bots can also be used for malicious purposes. In that case, the bots are called “malware bots.”
Malware bots can be programmed for malicious purposes, such as hacking accounts, scanning the Internet for contact information, sending spam (including phishing emails), and more. Today’s malware bots are very hard to recognize, as the criminals disguise the source of the attack traffic by creating botnets (bot networks).
Botnets can be used to infect a business network or device, connecting the object of attack to a central server. The server is the command centre for the botnet. (The botnet may be a network for a company or several computers on the same network).
Malicious bot activity can include some of the following:
- Launch DoS attacks
- Log keystrokes
- Steal financial information
- Capture and examine packets
- Exploit back doors on an infected device
- Email address harvesting
- And much more
How Do Bots Impact Businesses?
According to Security Today, bots account for about 47% of Internet traffic. Bots are disguised as customers, making it extremely difficult to find and remove these threats. In addition, bots generate what appears to be customer data, which is then used by businesses to make important decisions. That means the data is flawed, since it’s based on customers that don’t even exist. But this is only one problem that bots cause organisations.
Malicious bots can be used to steal all types of company data, including:
- Price scraping: competitors may use bots to beat your prices, causing loss in revenue
- Content scraping: your website content can be stolen and used by criminals, sometimes resulting in duplicate content that can harm your company’s SEO ranking
- Account takeover: bots can steal login credentials, making it easy for criminals to log onto your network and steal data, cause financial fraud, and worse
- Denial of Service attacks: can slow your website’s performance, causing brownouts or downtime
Both can harm an organisation’s bottom line, reputation, and so much more. They can cause significant damage to your business on many levels.
As you can see, your business needs effective protection against bots and the criminals behind them.
How to Protect Your Business Against Botnet Attacks
While botnet attacks can cause devastating problems for your business, there are some steps you can take to improve your network’s security and prevent bots from taking over.
Firewall & Antivirus Software
Protection against bots begins with a firewall. Firewalls are an integral piece of cybersecurity for all businesses. They are the first line of defence against threats, such as botnets. Firewalls make it possible to stop certain patterns that put your network in danger and limit the number of requests made from the same IP address or to the same port.
Another essential part of your cybersecurity is antivirus software. Antivirus is another necessary cybersecurity tool that can prevent infection from malicious software. It can limit the malicious bot’s ability to spread or remove it from the system.
Most cyberattacks take advantage of vulnerabilities that are found in networks. The exploits are usually caused by software that’s old or out of date. Unfortunately, criminals stay current with different versions of operating systems and software, along with their possible vulnerabilities.
One of the most important steps your company can take is to ensure all software is current and updated regularly. Security patches are one way to seal off vulnerabilities that can be exploited by bots and other malicious software.
Strong Access Controls
Your business can avoid brute force attacks, phishing attacks, leaked credentials, and more with strong access controls. For instance, requiring all employees to use multi-factor authentication is one of the best ways to protect your network from phishing, unsecured passwords, and more.
Furthermore, using a segmented network is another way to minimise data leaks or the harm these can cause your business.
Network Traffic Monitoring
It’s crucial to continuously monitor for malicious activities on your company network. These must be found and identified early to prevent an attack. Monitoring the network traffic for malicious patterns can isolate and get rid of threats before they cause major damage.
Cyber Threat Awareness Training
To ensure the full protection of your network, it’s necessary to train employees on what to watch for. With the necessary knowledge, employees can more quickly spot spam messages and other issues to avoid malicious bots and other threats.
Training employees on cyber threats gives them the knowledge they need to help your organisation minimise the risks faced from bots and more.
Who Needs Bot Protection?
Bot protection is necessary for any company that runs online or uses the Internet. That means businesses of all sizes, government agencies, financial institutions, and more. Your business, no matter its size, needs excellent bot protection to prevent an attack from this malicious software.
As bot attacks become more sophisticated and increase in number, it’s essential to have dedicated bot protection methods in place.
Summing It Up
Malicious bots are set to become a worse problem in the coming months and years. So, it pays to ensure your organisation has an effective bot solution in place to avoid falling prey to these threats.
If you’re not sure how to move forward with bot protection, it’s a good idea to reach out to your IT service provider. They have the knowledge and experience to ensure your business is protected and stays safe from malicious bots and other cyber threats.
23rd February 2024
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