More hackers use botnets to conduct fraud schemes

November 1, 2012

Browsing the internet may not be as safe as it used to be. Researchers have found that many hackers are infecting devices with botnets to easily spread malware and compromise large amounts of computers at a time. To prevent attacks, people should be aware of the risks associated with botnets and put security measures in place to protect data.

By sending out botnets, hackers hope to gain control of computers to send malicious emails, attack computer servers or commit crimes like ad-click fraud - when a person shows false interest in a product and clicks on an advertisement. Ad-click fraud is a major problem that may cause companies to lose thousands of dollars.

According to a recent malware report by Kindsight Security Labs, 2.2 million users worldwide have been affected by botnets. The study also showed that most cybercriminals employ these assaults to conduct ad-click fraud schemes, Dark Reading reported.

The study found that the most active botnet is ZeroAccess because it can "mimic human behavior." Kevin McNamee, the security architect and director at Kindsight, said that this form of malware can cost advertisers $900,000 per day by making 140 million clicks, according to the source.

Thirteen percent of North American homes are currently infected with malware, 6.5 percent of which are victims of a botnet. The report found that 3 percent of mobile devices are also infected, a number that is continually growing, according to the source.

The results of this study serve as a reminder for consumers to take preventative steps to ensure data protection. Like with other types of malware, experts suggest that people update their network security software and operating systems to fix vulnerabilities and prevent hackers from bypassing security controls. Users should also employ strong passwords, install antivirus software and avoid links that may lead to the download of a botnet.

-McAfee Cloud Security