Recognize

Botnets are networks of computers infected by malware (such as computer viruses, keyloggers, and other malicious software) and controlled remotely by cybercriminals for financial gain or to launch attacks on websites or other networks. Botnets can steal your personal information, slow down your connection, or use your device or accounts to send spam to others.

Warning Signs That Your Device is Infected

  • Your web browser freezes or becomes unresponsive.
  • You get redirected to web pages other than the ones you are trying to visit.
  • You are bombarded with pop-up messages.
  • Your device or internet runs slower than usual.
  • You see new icons on your desktop that you don’t recognize.
  • Your device’s cooling fan spins suspiciously louder or harder than usual.

If you think your device has been infected by a botnet, we recommend that you act immediately by following our guidelines below, and then proceed to our ReportRecover, and Reinforce sections for further assistance.

Some Immediate Action Steps to Take

  • Disconnect your device from the internet immediately.
  • Remove any CDs or DVDs, and unplug USB drives from your computer.
  • Shut down your device and restart it in Safe Mode.
    • How to restart Windows in safe mode.
    • How to restart Mac in safe mode.
  • Backup files like documents, photos, and videos. Do not back up program files, as those are where infections like to hide.
  • Use another computer to download a malware scanning program or purchase a program disc at a store. If you don’t have another computer, ask a good friend or family member to use their computer to download the malware scanning software.
  • Use an empty flash drive to transport the malware scanning program from the clean computer to the infect one.
  • Run the scan. A list of scan results will tell you what malware was found and removed.
  • After scanning and removing any malware, restart your computer and confirm the results of your anti-malware scan by running a full scan with another malware detection program. Restart your device again if the program found additional infections.
  • Update your operating system, browser, and applications.
  • Change and create new strong passwords for all of your account. Learn how from ConnectSafely.org.

* If you still believe you have problems after following these steps or don’t feel comfortable completing these steps, take your device to a professional.

Report

Recover

These resources have been gathered, selected and vetted to help simplify the process of recovering after a cybercrime incident has taken place. You may need to contact organizations outside FightCybercrime.org. Results will vary depending on your circumstances.

Reinforce

Once you have notified the appropriate organizations and you are on the road to recovery, it is time to reinforce your cybersecurity using these resources and tools.

Implement Preventative Measures

  • Download our Six Steps to Better Security PDF.
  • Always keep your operating system, security software, and apps up to date.
  • Keep your firewall turned on at all times to prevent hackers from stealing passwords or other sensitive information.
  • Only use trusted or secure WiFi networks, and disable auto-connect on your device’s WiFi settings.
  • Never click on a link or open an attachment in a message or email from someone you don’t know.
  • Create strong passwords. Learn how from ConnectSafely.org.
  • Always enable a two-factor authentication (2FA) on your email, social media and other online accounts – which requires an additional code to log in.

Community Resources

Helpful Vidoes