<networking, security> The most common kind of bot; a kind of malware that uses multiple Windows PCs connected to the Internet to attack other computers, to send spam or to spread itself.
Like other malware, such bots are installed without the knowledge of the computer's owner and run in the background, often disguising themselves as other programs. Instances of a specific bot program typically run on (hundreds of) thousands of computers at once. Some operate completely autonomously, others periodically fetch instructions from one or more remote computers that are directly under the control of the bot's operator (the "botmaster"). Botmasters rent the use of their botnets to other criminals such as spammers and people who want to launch DDoS attacks on sites belonging to their competitors or political opponents.
The term "botnet" is not used for other similar kinds of distributed computing that run in the background on a user's PC but which are installed with the user's knowledge and cooperation and are used for good (e.g. BOINC, SETI at Home).
Last updated: 2014-02-16
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Nearby terms: BOSS « bot « botmaster « botnet » bottom » BottomFeeder » bottom feeder