An increase in the activity of internet bots encourages us to peer down memory lane at the history of botnets. Why do these bots seem to make up a big part of the internet, and what do they do?
Botnets are controllable infected internet programs capable of carrying out multiple cyber frauds. The history of botnets goes as far back as 1988 with the invention of Puppe, Bartender, and Wumpus game controllers.
As time passed, the presence of botnets on the internet increased, and it has caused much damage in cyberspace. Some notable botnet events were Storm, Cutwail, and Methbot.
What roles do botnets play in the history of cybercrimes, and what steps have we taken to control them? To find out, continue reading this highly informative piece for more information on the history of botnets.
What is a Botnet?
A botnet comprises several infected computers, phones, servers, and other devices connected via the internet and controlled through a single software. In most cases, the owners of these devices are unaware of the bots functioning.
Several cybercriminals employ botnets when carrying out malicious activities on unaware victims. These botnets make their jobs easier as they perform multiple actions humans cannot carry out single-handedly.
A Brief History of Botnets
Internet Relay Chat (IRC), which came out in 1988, was the first thing that made botnets possible. You can trace the first ever botnets back to Jyrki Alakuijala, Bill Wisner, and Greg Lindahl. These developers created and used bots like Puppe, Bartender, and another that managed Greg’s Hunt the Wumpus game.
At this time, these bots were mainly used to keep a server busy and prevent a shutdown. They performed tasks at speeds faster than an average human would. The web crawler bots quickly appeared, with WebCrawler being the first. Googlebot has become the most well-known web crawler.
In 1999, two botnets appeared for the first time in history: Sub 7 and Pretty Park. The first was a Trojan, and the second was a worm. Over time, botnet developers have used this technology to launch various attacks, such as ransomware and data theft. They are simply the weapons hackers use when perpetuating several internet crimes.
Some Notable Botnet Attacks
While most Gen Z individuals may not remember, the internet has had its fair share of attacks since its inception. Below are some of the most notable botnet attacks in the history of botnets:
Storm was among the earliest peer-to-peer botnets. The network of 250,000 to 1 million infected PCs was available on the dark web. And Storm engaged in DDoS attacks and identity theft. Its servers were shut down in 2008, leaving the botnet dormant.
Cutwail sent 51 million emails per minute in 2009, generating 46.5% of the world’s spam output. It has 1.5 million infected machines, making it difficult to shut down. Even though the FBI, Europol, and other groups tried to shut down this botnet in 2014, it is still running and can be rented.
Methbot maliciously obtained hundreds of thousands of IP addresses from two major internet registries. Its operators generated more than 6,000 domains and 250,267 different URLs that looked to be from premium publications.
After that, it sent bots to “view” 300 million video ads daily while getting advertisers to bid on them. Thankfully, White Ops detected and removed the program in 2015.
You’d find that there are good and bad bots, with the bad ones being the computers’ greatest enemies. The history of botnets proves this fact and addresses the need to root them out.