Malware has a few different intentions when it infects your computer. It could want to:
- show you ads to make money (adware)
- Watch where you go on the web and steal your passwords to either use your accounts for sending out spam or access your bank/credit card account
- Make you think you have a virus so you pay them to fix it (scareware)
- Make your computer part of a botnet
Joining your computer to the botnet might not actually give you any symptoms like the other options would and sometimes it’s just one of the many side effects of becoming infected with malware. By your computer being part of a botnet, you are giving somebody else access to your computing and network resources. Computers in a botnet are used to pass along data so that it is untraceable or is used in Dynamic Denial Of Service attacks, where a large number of computers send so many requests to a server that it crashes. Computers running botnets might also be running hidden browsers in the background and submit spam comments to every page you visit.
Some try to identify bots and other unauthorized access by setting up bait for the bots to take. These traps are called Honeypots and a network of them are called a Honeynet. Taking the identifying information about where infected computers are, you can check to see if your computer has been detected in a honeynet at www.botnetchecker.com.
Just visit the site and it will capture your IP address (which you give to every website you visit anyways) and run it through their list of recently trapped bots. If nothing is found, it should give you a better sense of security. If it has been seen recently, they’ll let you know and you’ll have some cleaning up to do. The site lists some resources that can help you take back your PC from the botnet. Fewer PCs in the botnet is better for us all. Any time you’re suspicious of your computer, you can just freely head over to Bot Net Checker and see if anything has been detected lately.