A DDOS attack, or Distributed Denial-of-Service attack, is a specific kind of malicious act whereby a perpetrator purposefully seeks to disrupt the services of a company to its users by overwhelming their network with frivolous requests. These attacks occur for a variety of reasons – some for revenge on a previous employer, some for no good reason at all other than to be disruptive – and their rise in prevalence across the internet has cause problems for a variety of service providers from small shops to national VoIP carriers. It is important to understand and to prepare for such attacks because the likelihood of becoming a victim is on the rise.
What is a DDOS attack?
A DDOS attack works by replicating multiple processes on multiple servers at the same time that simultaneously send network requests to the intended target. The goal is to overwhelm the target network so that its services are disrupted. The best analogy for how this works used in tech circles is thus: a small shop owner at a mall is suddenly swarmed by a flash mob who block the entryway to his shop. They have no intention on purchasing his wares, and they are preventing his customers from entering the shop. In this same way, a DDOS attack swarms an online network with requests to prevent regular requests, or visitors, from being able to access it.
What makes DDOS attacks more frightening still is that malware can be created to run the processes automatically and indefinitely, which means a victim of such an attack, if unprepared, can potentially experience disruption of service indefinitely until a remedy is found.
3 Facts About DDOS Attacks You Need to Know
DDOS attacks began as an obscure kind of service disruption that only highly skilled computer programmers could put into effect. However, in the past few years these kinds of attacks have been on the rise because access to the kinds of malware necessary to launch a DDOS attack have become accessible to anyone and everyone with an internet connection. The following are three facts about DDOS attacks recently revealed through online studies:
- As of 2012, an individual can purchase a DDOS attack for as little at $150 on the black market. A recent study by the firm Trend Micro demonstrated that DDOS attacks are a popular and commonly purchased service on the “dark web” and that sales for such services are climbing fast.
- A recent study by Arbor Networks tracked and found over 2,000 new DDOS attacks being perpetrated worldwide ever single day. More troubling still, the study has seen a sharp increase in the number of DDOS attacks in recent years, and this trend does not appear it will reverse course soon.
- A study conducted my the firm Verisign/Merrill found that over one third of all downtime reported by service providers on the internet were directly attributable to a DDOS attack.
What Can Businesses Do to Prevent DDOS Attacks?
In an interview with IT in Canada, Candid Wüeest, senior software engineer at Symantec Advanced Threat Research, discussed how businesses can defend against these attacks.
“When it comes to defending against DDoS attacks, there are a few strategies. The first one is to simply be prepared for them and know who to call. Have a response plan integrated into your system to accommodate DDoS attacks. In most cases, when businesses fall victim to DDoS attacks, they don’t know what to do or who to call, or who is responsible at the IP level, and this results in valuable time and revenue being lost.
The second one is planning for scalability and flexibility within your network. That starts with having the opportunity to filter out traffic whenever possible in multiple locations, have a load balancer in for multiple sites, or have a caching proxy in place.
The third strategy involves implementing certain protection services. Nowadays, if you’re a medium- or large-sized business, you should also definitely speak with providers of specific protection services, which can help you mirror your website across multiple locations, allowing for better filtering if you are under attack.
Companies should definitely read the FAQs from their cloud service providers to learn how they can protect against denial-of-service attacks. Sometimes, they might be a DDoS attack against a company’s online storage, but if it’s targeting the cloud provider, the business might not even notice that they are under attack. They might just notice that they are no longer available, or the availability of certain documents is failing.
You should definitely talk to you cloud provider about how they are protected against DDoS attacks, and most of them do have a plan or have multiple locations and balancing in place to cope with these attacks. Make sure that you are aware of them, and if they don’t have them, you should consider moving to another one or plan a strategy on how you can switch to a secondary site in the event of an attack.”
For more on DDOS attacks, visit Digital Attack Map’s Understanding DDOS webpage with up to date digital resources and information on DDOS attacks.