Are bots and BOTNETs the most dangerous threat on the Internet?

If you notice that your computer's performance has slowed down for no apparent reason, there is an incorrect response to standard actions (typing text, moving the cursor, etc.), perhaps the control over your device has been captured by malicious Internet bots.

What is an internet bot?

Internet bots, also known as web crawlers, WWW robots or simply bots, are the programs that perform duplicate tasks on the Internet automatically or by schedule. As a rule, these tasks are too routine for a human. Search engines use them for search and cataloging of information from websites; e-commerce services use them to find the best deals in seconds, and some sites and services use bots to aggregate some important information. Such information includes weather, news, sports, exchange rates, etc.

Unfortunately, not all bots are useful. Cybercriminals are actively using malicious bots in their activities - software designed to secretly install on vulnerable computers and perform their required actions. This can be anything from spamming to participating in DDoS attacks.

The transformation of a computer into a zombie

Once infected, the computer becomes part of a botnet - a network of infected computers managed at a distance by a cybercriminal who rented it for illegal plans. Thus, not only does your Internet security compromise, but your system resources and bandwidth are leased to help attack other users or organizations. This huge potential for cybercrime makes botnets one of the most dangerous threats on the Internet, according to some experts.

Botnets include hundreds or thousands of infected devices and have the resources needed to carry out such malicious activities as delivery of mass spam messages, DoS and DDoS attacks, attacks by mass passwords burglary, theft of accounts and Internet fraud by collecting personal information  from infected users.

How can the device be infected?

Bots can infect your device in many ways. They can use vulnerabilities and outdated software on the system while browsing the web pages. They can be delivered by trojans or maliciouos software downloaded by users. They can also be emailed by spammers or even trusted contacts whose devices are infected.

Basic security measures against bots and botnets

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent your computer from joining the cyber-zombie army:

Be very careful with email attachments. Even if you know the email address from which letters arrive, they can be sent by malicious software without the consent of the sender.

Ignore suspicious web ads and pop-ups. Do not believe them when they urge you to open links or upload files, even if they promise nice prizes or make warnings.

Chose antivirus software consciously. Even more serious than choosing a new smartphone :)

Make sure all software is upgraded. Old software creates the best conditions for infection by bots and other malicious stuff, so keep an eye out for updates and patches.

Well, finally, here is a useful link with an online vulnerability map.