In the early days of computing, a group of young and curious individuals stumbled upon the world of hacking. They were fascinated by the endless possibilities and were eager to learn more.

However, their motivations were different from what one might expect. Instead of seeking financial gain, these early hackers were driven by a desire for recognition and respect amongst their peers.

They would create and spread viruses and other malicious software as a way of showcasing their technical prowess.

Fast forward a few decades, and the motivations of hackers have shifted dramatically.

The rise of the internet and the globalization of the economy have created an environment where hacking has become a big business. Money is now the driving force behind the majority of cyber-attacks, with hackers looking to exploit vulnerabilities of your devices in order to make money. 

The initial tactics used by hackers haven’t changed much...

Hackers discover weaknesses in widely-used software such as Windows or Google Chrome and leverage exploits to infect these systems with malware, resulting in an army of bots at their disposal.

So, what exactly is a botnet?

Botnets are an army of compromised computers controlled by a remote attacker, without the awareness or permission of their owners. These botnets can be leveraged to carry out cyber attacks such as spamming, phishing, and DDoS.

Large botnets, comprising hundreds of thousands of infected devices, have the potential to inflict significant damage to both businesses and individuals.

When malware infects your computer, it converts a portion of its processing power into a bot, controlled by the hacker as part of their botnet, to carry out any given command.

Method #1: Denial of service attacks

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is a type of cyber attack that aims to make a website or network unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources.

This is done by using a network of infected devices, also known as a botnet, which are controlled by the attacker to simultaneously send requests to the target website or network.

Hackers use these botnets to sell DDoS services to anyone who is interested. They essentially rent out their network of infected devices to individuals or organizations who want to launch a DDoS attack against a specific target.

The attacker controls the botnet to direct the traffic toward the target, effectively overwhelming it and rendering it unavailable.

In summary, a DDoS attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal functioning of a website or network by overwhelming it with traffic from a large number of sources.

Hackers can create botnets of infected devices to carry out these attacks and sell their services to those who want to launch a DDoS attack.

Method #2: Sending unsolicited e-mails (SPAM)

Hackers use botnets to send out massive amounts of spam emails by using the infected devices within the botnet to send the emails.

Because the emails are coming from many different IP addresses of machines within the botnet, they are more likely to bypass the spam filters of email providers such as Google or Hotmail.

Spam filters typically block emails based on certain criteria such as the content of the email, the sender’s reputation, and the volume of emails being sent from a single IP address.

However, when using a botnet, the emails are sent from thousands of different IP addresses, making it difficult for spam filters to detect and block them all.

Additionally, hackers can use the infected devices within the botnet to hide their identity and evade detection.

By sending spam emails through the botnet, they are able to avoid being blacklisted and continue sending spam emails on a large scale.

Method #3: Snooping to access finances

Hackers use malware with built-in keyloggers to steal sensitive information from infected devices.

A keylogger is a type of software that records every keystroke made on the infected device and sends this information back to the hacker.

This allows the hacker to see everything that’s being typed on the infected device, including passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information.

By using this information, the hacker can attempt to log in to the victim’s online accounts, such as bank accounts or cryptocurrency wallets, and steal their money.

This is why it’s crucial to always keep your computer and other devices protected with up-to-date anti-virus software and to be careful when clicking on suspicious links or downloading unknown files.

Method #4: Mining cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency mining is a process that involves performing complex mathematical calculations in order to generate new units of digital currency.

By utilizing infected computers, malicious actors can mine their desired coins without incurring the costs associated with purchasing hardware or paying for electricity.

This method allows them to make substantial profits while their victims bear the costs of the mining operation.

However, this practice is unethical and illegal, as it exploits the computing resources of others without their consent.

The use of infected computers for cryptocurrency mining can also slow down the performance of the affected devices and leave them vulnerable to further attacks.

Method #5: Using your device as a VPN gateway

Hackers can install VPN servers on people’s devices using malware, allowing them to access the internet through the VPN server installed on the victim’s computer.

This practice is often used for illegal purposes such as hacking and other malicious activities, as it provides a degree of anonymity and makes it difficult to trace the source of the activity back to the hacker.

However, this is a dangerous practice and can lead to serious consequences for the victim.

The victim’s IP address will be logged as the source of the intruder’s activity, which can result in criminal charges being brought against the victim for illegal activities they did not engage in. This can cause significant harm to the victim’s reputation, finances, and personal life.

Method #6: Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the contents of a victim’s computer and demands payment, usually in cryptocurrency, in exchange for the decryption key.

Hackers can use malware to install a ransomware script onto a victim’s computer, which can lock down the entire system and make all of the victim’s files inaccessible.

The hacker will then demand a ransom payment, typically in the form of cryptocurrency, in order to provide the decryption key and return the computer to its original state. Paying the ransom is generally not recommended, as it only reinforces the behavior of the hackers and encourages them to continue their malicious activities.

In many cases, paying the ransom does not guarantee that the decryption key will be provided, or that the computer will be returned to its original state.

Additionally, there is no guarantee that the hackers will not attempt to extort the victim for more money in the future.

Don’t become a victim of cybercrime. Protect your devices and your personal information by using reputable anti-virus software. Keep your software updated to stay ahead of the latest threats. If you’re looking for a reliable solution, we highly recommend Norton360. Click here for a coupon and start protecting your devices today!

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Our investigations into Common Scams of 2023