My mom asked me about botnets the other day. And low and behold, CNN has a little story on them. The most laughable part? The FBI is saying that they've caused 20 million dollars worth of damage!!! 20 million?? Really? Wow, that's like less than Kevin Garnett's salary! The truth is that the damage is much much greater - companies that get attacked by these botnets never report it, because their customers would flee.
Anyway, botnets are used for all sorts of stuff, from sending spam to taking down websites. Some estimates say that a quarter of all computers connected to the internet are zombies. If you've got a Mac or are running Linux, at least you don't have to worry about it.
Here's the best diagram for how this all works:
1. Evil hacker man sends out a virus to dumb Windows face, who then becomes very sad!! Dumb Windows face should stop clicking every link in their inbox!
2. Behind Windows Users' back, their compromised computer logs into a shady IRC chatroom, filled with the stench of cheap cigars and vodka.
3. Evil marketing man gives pile of cash to Evil hacker man, in exchange for temporary control of botnet, which consists of computers who are logged into this chatroom.
4. Evil marketing man issues a command to computers in the chat room: "HEY, THESE DRINKS AIN'T FREE - SEND OUT SOME SPAM FOR ME SO I CAN'T BE TRACED"
5. You obtain LOW LOW INT3RE5T RRATES and cheap C1AL1S and V1AGRA 4 B3TT3R 3R3CT10NS, and the cycle of life continues.