A distributed denial of service attack is one of the most complicated attacks to defend against. They come in countless varieties, attack from countless IPs, and send millions of packets; choking up bandwidth and causing servers to go offline. DDoS is a denial of service attack on steroids.
Distributed denial of service is often referred to as DDoS (pronounced DEE-DOS). A DDoS attack works much the same as a denial of service, except in this case the attack is magnified by hundreds, if not thousands of machines. Instead of one machine trying to take another offline, you have multiple machines focusing on a single target.
These types of attacks are almost always successful if you do not have DDoS protection. Regular hosting environments are not built to absorb all of the extra traffic. If you don’t have DDoS protection, your hosting provider will almost always null route your IP the moment you get attacked. If its a real serious attack, your host will kill your website to stop the attack from spilling over and affecting other customers on the network.
How DDoS Attacks Are Launched
Hackers are creative. DDoS attacks have been launched in many ways, and they are only getting more complex. DDoS attacks first made it to the mainstream when the hacker collective Anonymous began launching attacks against large sites like PayPal and the Church of Scientology using an open source DDoS toolkit known as the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC).
The software itself was designed to be a stand alone DoS attack software, but had added functionality that allowed the software to be centrally controlled via an IRC server. This effectively allowed them to combine the power of every computer that had the software installed. Each person simply volunteered their computer and whoever was in command of the server was able to launch concentrated DDoS attacks at whatever what website they chose.
Botnets Now Rule The Day When It Come To DDoS
Toolkits like LOIC do not have very good capabilities anymore. Just as there has been major advancements in cyber security, those same innovations are also happening in the underworld. There are countless DDoS toolkits being developed, bought and sold (even rented!). In turn, attack strength has gotten stronger and attacks have became easier to launch.
The root of the problem is the growing number of botnets online. Most botnets are spread through malware and spam. Once your computer becomes infected, an attacker has the ability to use your computer in a distributed denial of service attack. You can avoid this by always keeping your software up-to-date and maintaining a good virus protection software. Of course, you also need to be very wary of the things you download online, especially software or anything that needs permission to your files.
Distribued Denial of Service Attacks Are Becoming More Complex
DDoS attacks are becoming easier to launch, and tougher to stop. Hackers are attacking the application layer: disrupting websites, email, VoIP, and more. Cyber crooks are also blending attacks to make them harder to stop, driving up the cost of mitigation and making website owners foot the bill.
You Should Have A Plan In Place For DDoS
Business continuity demands that you have a plan for when things go south. You may not feel like you have a need for DDoS protection, but if your website is crucial for your business, you want to plan accordingly. At the very least you should have a DDoS mitigation expert you can talk to if that time comes.