Botnet Infiltration and Disruption Playbook

December 16, 20234 min read

Playbook Objectives:

  • To enhance the cybersecurity team’s proficiency in the detection, analysis, and disruption of botnet activities within a corporate network.
  • To evaluate and improve the incident response plan concerning botnet infiltration.
  • To test the effectiveness of current security controls and identify areas of improvement.
  • To train participants on the collaboration and information-sharing necessary during a cybersecurity incident response.
  • To establish a protocol for legal and ethical considerations when disrupting botnets.

Difficulty Level:

  • Advanced; requiring participants to have a solid understanding of network forensics, malware analysis, reverse engineering, and cybersecurity incident response techniques.


  • FinTech Corporation, a prominent financial technology provider known for its cutting-edge assets management software, has recently observed unusual network traffic suggesting a botnet infiltration. Given the company’s vast repository of sensitive financial data, maintaining robust cybersecurity defenses is critical.
  • FinTech’s cybersecurity team has been alerted to irregular traffic originating from several internal devices. Preliminary signs include increased network latency, unusual outbound traffic, and reports of sluggish system performance from the customer support department.
  • Closer inspection reveals that these devices are sporadically communicating with an external command and control (C2) server, indicating that a botnet has potentially compromised the internal network. As part of FinTech’s proactive cybersecurity posture, they’ve instigated a Cyber Range exercise dubbed ‘Operation BotSafe’ aiming to neutralize this threat.
  • The objective is to first understand the botnet’s behavior, isolate the affected systems, and then proceed to disrupt the botnet’s operations without alerting the botmaster, preventing any further damage or data exfiltration.
  • The exercise will simulate a real-time infiltration by a sophisticated botnet designed to stealthily harvest data and co-opt systems for malicious purposes such as DDoS attacks or cryptocurrency mining.


  • Botnet Mitigation
  • Incident Response
  • Network Security
  • Malware Analysis

Exercise Attack Steps:

  • Initial Indicators of Compromise (IoCs) Identification:
    • Isolate and analyze network traffic for suspicious patterns.
    • Review system logs for signs of unauthorized access or anomalous activities.
    • Deploy network-based Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) to highlight potential IoCs.
  • System and Network Analysis:
    • Use network mapping to identify compromised devices within the organization.
    • Perform forensic analysis on suspected systems to understand the scope of infiltration.
    • Reverse-engineer malware samples to ascertain functionality and C2 communication protocols.
  • Containment Strategies:
    • Segment the network to restrict communication to and from infected systems.
    • Implement access control lists (ACLs) or firewall rules to limit the botnet’s operational capacity.
    • Design and enforce stricter network access controls to prevent lateral movement.
  • Eradication and Recovery:
    • Devise and apply strategies to remove malicious payloads from infected systems.
    • Restore affected systems from known good backups.
    • Hardening the security posture of recovered systems to prevent reinfection.
  • Botnet Disruption Techniques:
    • Coordinate with ISPs and other external entities to disrupt C2 traffic.
    • Incorporate sinkholing or takedown requests to dismantle botnet infrastructure.
    • Craft and deploy deception techniques such as honeypot networks to distract and analyze the botnet.
  • Post-Exercise Reporting and Debriefing:
    • Document the steps taken, including successes and setbacks.
    • Modify the incident response plan based on exercise feedback.
    • Share key findings with the broader security community to aid in collective defense efforts.