Technology is often exploited by hackers for their benefit, but one avenue of attack that’s consistently neglected is the mobile device. Smartphones and tablets are arguably at greater risk than desktops and workstations due to them being exposed to more wireless networks. One of the greatest threats to these devices is the botnet, a threat that usually targets desktop computers, enslaving them and turning the machine against its owner (and the rest of the Internet).
What’s a Botnet?
A botnet isn’t just a single threat; it’s a collective term used to describe several computers or devices that have been turned into bots, which are at the mercy of hackers. Essentially, as described by CyberTrend, botnets are:
[...] a series of computers, or smartphones and tablets in the case of mobile bots, that have been infected with a self-replicating backdoor Trojan that lets cybercriminals force the network to perform unauthorized commands, en masse. Once infected with such malware, a computer or mobile device becomes a single node in the botnet, referred to as a zombie or bot. The strength of the botnet is in the numbers. Cybercriminals use a system known as a command-and-control computer to issue commands and distribute the malware.
In other words, a botnet emulates a zombie horde, absorbing more devices into its control and forcing them to bend to the will of a hacker. These devices can then be used for any number of purposes, such as spreading malware and viruses across a vast network of users, generating spam, collecting information, and so on. One of the worst things botnets can do is initiate a DDoS attack, which overloads a server with traffic, rendering it useless until the attack ceases. This causes excessive downtime, which can lead to wasted time and expenses.
But Why Mobile Devices?
As previously mentioned, the same security solutions that work for many desktop and workstation platforms don’t necessarily work the same way for mobile devices; or, rather, people tend to not consider mobile devices as a threat medium. This makes mobile devices a prime target for being turned into botnets. The fact that so many people are partaking in BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), where employees bring their own devices to the office for work purposes, is also fostering the idea that mobile devices can be used to spread malware and viruses.
What You Can Do
The best way to avoid becoming part of a botnet, for both a mobile device and a workstation PC, is to integrate comprehensive security protocol on all of your devices. By taking a proactive stance against this threat, you can avoid getting infected and becoming a tool to spread the infection to others. For mobile devices, be sure to take advantage of some sort of security solution, and to keep it updated at all times. The same goes for any applications you use on your devices. Ensure that you are using the most recent versions of your apps, which will minimize the security holes in your system’s defenses.
Of course, while mobile botnets are increasing in number, their PC counterparts are far more prevalent. Therefore, you need to ensure that your business’s workstations are also secured from the threat of botnets. A Unified Threat Management solution can provide the means to keep malware and viruses out of your system, eradicate those that do get in, put a halt to spam, and block malicious or time-wasting web content. To learn more, give us a call at 586 258-0650.