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Chapter 8 The Botnet Problem > Origins of Botnets

Origins of Botnets

Before botnets, the main motivation for Internet attacks was fame and notoriety. By design, these attacks were noisy and easily detected. High-profile examples are the Melissa email worm (1999), ILOVEYOU (2000), Code Red (2001), Slammer (2003), and Sasser (2004) [5, 6]. Though the impact of these viruses and worms was severe, the damage was relatively short-lived and consisted mainly of the cost of the outage plus man-hours required for cleanup. Once the infected files had been removed from the victim computers and the vulnerability patched, the attackers no longer had any control.

By contrast, botnets are built on the very premise of extending the attacker’s control over his victims. To achieve long-term control, a bot must be stealthy during every part of its lifecycle, unlike its predecessors [2]. As a result, most bots have a relatively small network footprint and do not create much traffic during typical operation. Once a bot is in place, the only required traffic consists of incoming commands and outgoing responses, constituting the botnet’s command and control (C&C) channel. Therefore, the scenario at the beginning of the chapter is not typical of all botnets. Such an obvious attack points to either a brazen or inexperienced botmaster, and there are plenty of them.


  

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