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Cyber Safety Glossary

Bots and Botnets

Also Known As:
Web agents, Web crawlers, Spiders.

Description:
Software robots called “bots” are programs designed to perform an extensive range of automated tasks. For example, Internet search engines routinely use bots to gather Web-page information and computer games use bots as opponents for human players. Hackers now use bot programs to coordinate groups of personal computers infected by malicious software (see Zombie Drones) for spamming, denial-of-service attacks on Web sites, theft, and fraud. These hacker-controlled networks are called botnets.

How to Recognize This Threat:
If your personal computer becomes increasingly sluggish it may have been co-opted through malicious software, Malware, into a botnet.

What Should I Do:
If you believe your personal computer has been co-opted into a botnet, have it checked by computer services organization. After the PC has been swept clean of possible viruses, worms, Trojan Horses, Spyware, and other Malware, install anti-virus and anti-Spyware software, as well as a firewall. Use a Spam filter. Be wary of opening email attachments, stick to mainstream Web sites, and be exceptionally careful about what you download from the Internet.