DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. This type of digital attack involves the use of several systems. These flood a single system with enough traffic that valid users are unable to connect.
Plus, in some cases, the system under attack crashes due to the overload. The goal, as you may have guessed from the name, is to deny service to users.
This is accomplished in a number of ways through different types of DDoS attacks. These invasions may target many businesses, individuals, entities, and organizations operating in the online arena.
Such attacks have been used to disrupt all kinds of services. Remember the massive DDoS attack in October of 2016? It brought down Twitter, Reddit, Netflix, CNN, and other sites across the U.S. and Europe.
The attacks we see on the news are only the tip of the iceberg. Use the Digital Attack Map (www.digitalattackmap.com). Thusly, you can witness the top DDoS attacks happening worldwide on any given day.
Just take a moment to process that. There are so many DDoS attacks happening daily that a website was created to track them.
As a business owner operating in the online arena, this should trouble you. You need the right information, however. Therefore, you can better understand how these attacks occur. You’ll know what you can do to protect against them.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF DDoS ATTACKS
There are endless variations under the heading of DDoS attack. They have ridiculous names like Smurfs and Pings of Death, for example. However, there are a few main types of DDoS attacks you should be aware of.
1. Application Layer
This type of DDoS attack targets specific aspects or known vulnerabilities of applications. It does so by flooding a system with requests that appear legitimate until the system is overwhelmed. The ultimate goal is crashing a web server.
Application layer attacks can be launched with relatively few resources (i.e. computers). They send a magnitude of requests to tie up resources with responses.
There are a small number of attacking systems. Plus, legitimate requests make application layer attacks difficult to detect before damage is done.
This is also known as state exhaustion attacks or TCP connection attacks. Protocol attacks do not target an application. Instead, they go after the infrastructure of a system. This is done by using up server resources and occupying connections.
It’s done in order to interrupt communications and crash the system. The resources required to complete such attacks may depend on the system under attack. That is because some systems feature millions of connections.
The target of volume-based attacks is bandwidth. Many web hosts provide supposedly unlimited bandwidth to customers. However, the truth is that available bandwidth can become congested.
This can be to the point where it’s virtually impossible for legitimate traffic to break through. This is the most common type of DDoS attack.
4. Mirai Botnet
Technically, this is a specific type of attack. It would fall under the broader category of volumetric attack. However, it is worth mentioning because this is the type of attack used for specific targets. These include Dyn, a company controlling much of the internet’s DNS infrastructure, last fall. It knocked out sites like CNN and Twitter for hours.
Most botnets rely on computers for an attack. Conversely, Mirai instead uses the so-called “internet of things”. This includes non-computer, connected devices like DVRs, digital cameras, and so on.
This resulted in what was billed as the largest DDoS attack on record. At 1.2 terabytes per second, it was twice as large as the next largest attack. It is significant because it could easily happen again.
This term is used to denote any type of new DDoS attack. It’s for one that has not been seen before. Unfortunately, it’s also for those in which there is not yet a known defense.
WHY DO DDoS ATTACKS OCCUR?
There are a number of reasons why hackers might use DDoS attacks. In some cases, they’re attempting to disrupt business operations. That is for the purpose of damaging a company’s reputation and revenue stream.
In other cases, the attacks are politically motivated. These hackers are attempting to bring attention to specific issues.
Some hackers also launch attacks for personal gain. They hope to achieve notoriety. They also use the attack to distract security personnel.
In doing so, a network can be penetrated for the purposes of data theft or installing ransomware, just for example. Attacks can also simply be malicious, with no intent other than to promote chaos.
It’s not always easy to determine why a DDoS attack occurs. However, that doesn’t mean businesses can’t defend themselves against them. They can also attempt to mitigate the harm caused by such attacks.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOUR WEBSITE
Understanding the types of DDoS attacks that might occur and knowing why hackers might want to attack you is valuable. Yet, you still have to do your part to protect against such invasions. That is due to the damage they ultimately cause. How can you do this?
1. Plan Ahead
Mitigating the harm caused by DDoS attacks starts with creating a response plan. You probably have firewalls and routers in place to protect your website and reject known threats.
Additionally, you most likely have other protective measures. However, you may still be vulnerable to attack. Therefore, you need to hope for the best, but expect the worst.
This means planning for immediate and ongoing response scenarios. This should probably be done with the help of professionals.
You should work with your ISP and internet security professionals. Thus, you can develop a plan that protects you. It will mitigate damage if you suffer a DDoS attack.
2. Know What to Watch For
It’s not always easy to spot a DDoS attack underway. You should know what to look for in terms of clues that indicate suspicious activity. This can give you the jump on attacks, along with an opportunity to minimize harm.
Real-time data and notifications are an essential component in spotting attacks early. Thus, take steps to stop them and lessen resulting damage. Monitoring software and services can provide timely information in the event of an attack.
4. Install Additional Protections
You simply can’t have too much security in place. Even the best security measures may not stop DDoS attacks. Instead, add features like load balancers, cloud-based anti-DDoS solutions (CDNs), and blacklisting illegitimate traffic sources. Thus, you can better protect yourself and ward off attacks.
If you have comments about this topic or suggestions about future topics leave them in the comment box below.
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