Practical Technology

for practical people.

What is a Botnet anyway?


Sometimes, those of us in the computer biz get so wrapped up in the techie details that we forget that many people don’t know what we think are the basics. For example, a really smart, computer-savvy friend of mine recently asked me, “What is a botnet anyway?” Whoops! Clearly, it’s time for me to do some explaining.

So, to start with his question, Botnets are networks of Windows PC, which have been taken over by malware programs. While it’s theoretically possible that a Mac or a Linux desktop PC could get a botnet malware bug, in practice, their better security makes them harder targets for botnet creators so they avoid them.

Your computer typically gets infected by botnet malware by a virus or worm. You get these by opening up an infected attachment or by visiting an infected Web site. Most modern anti-viral programs like AVG, Norton Anti-Virus, or Kaspersky Anti-Virus, will keep your machine safe from these attackers. If, that is, you keep your security programs up-to-date. Stale anti-viral software is worst than useless.

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