Imagine an army of computers, acting under the instructions of a criminal syndicate, terrorist group, or foreign government. The sheer size of this network of devices augments the computing power of a single hacker, allowing them to coordinate attacks capable of knocking offline crucial websites belonging to banks, social media, and news organizations.
These so-called botnets can disrupt the internet’s infrastructure, facilitate theft and surveillance on a mass scale, and even sway political opinion. Such subtle influence could shape electorates and influence entire government policies – all staged from the comfort of a keyboard anywhere in the world.
What are botnets and how can they be used for nefarious purposes? What can private industry and government do combat them?