You have probably heard the word botnet in recent months, with the Mirai botnet putting the term firmly on the map at the end of 2016.
However, while the word may be familiar, it is possible you are not familiar with what a botnet actually is. You also may not know that they are a far from new innovation on the part of cyber criminals, with botnets being used in various nefarious activities for many years.
The two most common uses of botnets are probably to carry out spam email campaigns, and to conduct distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
Bots can also be used to send out email malware. Different types of malware can have different goals, including harvesting information from infected computers. This could include passwords, credit card information, and any other information that can be sold on the black market. If computers on a corporate network are turned into bots then sensitive corporate information could also be at risk of being stolen.
Bots are also commonly used for click fraud — visiting websites to create false traffic and generate money for those behind the bots. They have also been used in bitcoin mining.