Ever wonder what they mean when it’s on the news that another website has undergone a DoS or DDoS attack? Or if you are trying to access a website but it’s either loading slowly or not at all? A DoS attack is a denial of service attack – what this entails is a computer flooding the respective server with so many requests, that the URL being attacked becomes crippled. Through the duration of the attack, the website does not load for visitors or loads slowly.
DoS attacks have become increasingly common with some security surveys estimating that the financial cost of each attack can be anywhere between $20,000-$40,000 per hour. The implications for the target of this attack can take days or even weeks to recover from. This is especially true for organizations that rely on their websites to sell products or services.
What is a DDoS attack?
A DDoS attack is a type of DoS attack which uses multiple computers to bombard the target server. It can involve thousands or more computers, that the attacker controls via a command server. The computers used for an attack in DDoS are referred to as bots or zombies and a network of these bots is called a botnet.
With a DDoS attack, since there are so many computers being used for the attack, it’s difficult for the target organization to identify the origin of the attack. This also causes the recovery process to be longer. Different types of DDoS attacks include Ping of Death, UDP floods, Ping flood and SYN flood.
How are DoS and DDoS attacks different?
The most common question that comes up regarding DoS and DDoS attacks is to understand how they are different. The most significant difference between the two is that a DDoS attack uses multiple computers while a DoS attack uses a single computer. Also, DDoS attacks are done through a botnet while a DoS attack is executed through a DoS tool.
There can be multiple reasons as to why an organization might undergo a DoS or DDoS attack. The attacker might want a ransom for halting the attack or could be paid by a competitor to halt the organization’s operations. In the past, a lot of attacks have also been in the category of “hacktivism” where the attacker will have a political agenda and will use DoS and DDoS attacks as method of communicating it.
Sometimes, the executing party may also have a name so as to appear as a legitimate claim. Stressers, for instance, aim to deliver services for testing the resilience of corporate servers. That being said, the malicious actors don’t verify the servers’ owners to conduct legitimate tests. However, DDoSsers and booters usually don’t conceal the nature of their actions.
How can you protect yourself from DoS and DDoS attacks?
There are multiple steps that can be taken to protect your organization from a DoS or DDoS attack and minimizing the damage if you do end up being affected. These steps include being vigilant through network monitoring to be able to identify threats before your system becomes crippled. You can also attempt a test DoS attack to test your cybersecurity system.
Also, keep tabs on your traffic to identify any abnormalities. Visits from unknown geolocations and IP addresses along with unexplained traffic spikes can indicate a denial of service attack. Basically, attackers use the attack vector as a dry run to test security measures before carrying out a full-range attack. Pen testing simulating attacks on your critical infrastructure is key to winning in the moment of truth.
It is impossible to prevent yourself from every possibility of DoS and DDoS attacks. However, having a better understanding of what they are and how to prevent or recover from them will definitely give you an advantage if your organization ever becomes a target.