DDoS is an acronym for distributed denial of service and basically refers to a type of Cyber-attack where the attacker tries to make certain network services inaccessible for its intended users. This is actualized by attacking the connecting host.
These attackers or hackers disrupt network services by flooding internet traffic with more requests than the server can handle, thereby overwhelming it, and making it inaccessible for its intended users. It is one of the many ways hackers perpetrate cyber crimes, and is a common instrument with which lots of big websites have been brought to ruin.
Explained in an alternative fashion, DDoS attacks are one of the malicious ways cyber criminals disrupt the normal functioning of a website/server, making it frustrating for legitimate users to access. Hackers use DDoS attacks to weaken certain website security protocols by infecting computers called ‘bots’. These bots come together to form a larger and stronger group called ‘botnets’. These botnets then attack the unprotected website/server by traffic flooding which overwhelms the website servers, and causes impediments in speed to load, or outrightly crashes them.
Once a botnet is created, the hackers, using a control system oversee the attack by sending information to each botnet to target the unprotected IP address of its victim. The bots achieve this by sending a lot of malicious requests to the unprotected server, so much that it overwhelms the target server and creates a kind of blockage which stops service to genuine requests from the normal users.
DDoS attacks are not easily detected because they come from legitimate internet devices which may resemble normal traffic, thus, they cannot be easily differentiated.
Websites and servers are an important part of every modern business venture, and as a result, any breach in the security of a business website causes a lot of damage to the image, and credibility of the brand. It also gives room for huge financial losses.
This is why businesses invest so much in protecting their servers from DDoS attacks as they have been proven to be one of the most common methods through which hackers crash business websites/servers. Extra focus is being made to provide better security software in a bid to fight against DDoS attacks.
There are different types of DDoS attacks and they are classified according to the software they specifically attack and the servers they exploit. They include:
HTTP flood attacks do not use a lot of bandwidth but contain powerful features that churn the resources of the website/server so much that it causes the servers to shut down. They look like legitimate post requests and can be difficult to detect.
Smurf attacks target the Internet protocol and the Internet control message protocol. By using a malware called Smurfs, it imitates IP addresses and floods the network through the internet control message protocol.
These are a new form of DDoS attacks that target certain weaknesses in an unprotected website/server.
Similar to Zero-Day DDoS Attacks, application-level attacks look for vulnerabilities and weaknesses to exploit. The only difference is that application-level attacks do not attack the entire server. They attack weaknesses in specific applications instead.
Synonymous with smurf attacks, it attacks the website’s network but instead of using the ICMP as a gateway like in the case of smurf attacks, its target gateway is the UDP (User Datagram Protocol) which is used by applications which require no feedback on packet delivery. e.g. YouTube, Skype, call of duty, etc.
Slowroris attacks the webserver and connects with its target for extended periods of time. It is one of the most complicated types of DDoS attacks and is usually used to attack websites with high security and sensitive information details. It can stay undetected for prolonged periods and is usually only detected after major damage has been done.
This type of attack targets weaknesses in the TCP connection sequence.
In the course of this article, we took time out to explain what DDoS attacks are in the simplest of terms to ease comprehension and understanding. This doesn’t mean that DDoS is as simple as that. DDoS attacks can be very complicated and would need a DDoS Specialist to completely understand them and proffer solutions to the types of DDoS attacks your website is likely to have.
Just as a doctor is well trained to understand ailments and prescribe drugs to fight them, no one understands DDoS attacks as much as a DDoS expert does, and as a result, no one is better placed to proffer solutions to DDoS attacks than the DDoS specialists. Website owners should always ensure that they have access to DDoS specialists to attend to all their concerns and benefit from their wealth of technological knowledge.
A network bandwidth refers to the capacity of a link to transmit the maximum amount of data from one point to another. Since DDoS attacks are only successful when they are able to overwhelm the target servers with amounts of data commensurate with the bandwidth capacity, a wise way to protect your server from these attacks would be to increase your bandwidths so much that no matter the amount of data being transmitted, there will always be enough capacity to accommodate them. Another closely linked solution would be the AnyCast Network Diffusion.
Content Delivery Networks (CDN’s) help provide backup to keep your websites/servers running even if your IP address is attacked as it allows your website to be hosted on multiple IP addresses so that you enjoy a certain level of protection as they are not all lost at once.
You can prevent DDoS attacks from crashing your websites/servers if you can quickly detect them as they come. Once detected, you can quickly block the IP addresses through which these attacks are being initiated.
Lastly, you can protect your website from DDoS attacks by choosing a service provider that priorities your website/server security, and would offer protective services that enable them to detect DDoS attacks.