You may have heard about bots before, perhaps in the context of BattleBots or the friendly neighborhood Googlebot, but there’s a new bot in town. Some have dubbed it the number one emerging threat on the Internet today. What are these bots and where do they come from? You may be using one of them right now. They are home computers that, unbeknownst to their owners, moonlight as a diabolical member of a network of zombie computers, known as a botnet. Computers all over the world are infected with code that allows an unauthorized user to control them via the Internet to commit crimes. Researchers estimate there are 75 to 100 million bots currently on the Internet, and the number is growing fast. They can be used to send out spam, perform denial of service attacks, steal people’s credit card or bank account numbers or commit trust fraud. It’s very hard to locate the owner of the botnet because your computer is doing all the dirty work. The way to keep your computer from becoming part of a botnet is to follow basic security precautions for a computer, such as installing the latest security updates or having a firewall. The problem is that the defense requires each often non-technical computer owner to keep their computer secure from skilled and technical attackers. It’s very unlikely that your 75-year-old Aunt Edith knows how to keep her computer secure, so the unfortunate consequence is that botnets will continue to grow until someone or something is able to stop them.


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