Understanding DDoS Attacks

DDoS attacks are simply distributed denial of service attacks whereby unscrupulous cybercriminals try to overwhelm a website with bogus traffic from multiple sources. At first, they primarily attacked important resources, but recently they’ve expanded their nefarious attacks on nearly everyone.

Who are their targets?

They’re currently targeting banking institutions, public libraries, news organizations, web hosting providers, auto repair shops, travel agencies, pet stores, hair salons and you name it – no one is safe from these low life Internet thugs.

Some alarming facts:

  • It’s not expensive to purchase the ability to launch DDoS attacks on the black market. For as little as $150, these thugs can acquire an attack that lasts for an entire week. What would that mean to your online business? Without protection of any kind, this would certainly affect your operations to some extent, either in terms of reduced traffic, shopping cart abandonment or higher bounce rates.
  • Thousands of attacks occur each and every day, with many of them becoming more sophisticated and complex. Just because a service states that they protect from DDoS attacks up to 20 Gbps, that alone is no guarantee that you’re protected. In fact, one leading web hosting provider contends that even 100 Gbps protection is no longer sufficient.
  • Downtime can be difficult to troubleshoot at times, but it’s estimated that one-third of all downtime incidents are caused by DDoS attacks.

The evil known as malicious botnets

These cybercriminals construct networks of infected computers and smartphones, known as botnets. Though these networks, these underbelly low-life’s of the Internet spread malicious software via infected websites, emails and social media accounts.

Once infected, control is administered remotely, clouded in stealth without the owner’s knowledge. The larger the network, the more damage can be dealt out against their targets.

DDoS attacks can overwhelm their targets

How do DDoS attack overwhelm their targets? They do this by generating tremendous floods of traffic, at a rate that servers simply cannot handle. At times, these attacks are so large that they can overwhelm a country’s international cable capacity.

The DDoS marketplace

What’s so frustrating is that it’s so simple to buy and sell these botnets on the black market. It’s essentially a sleazy underground market for silencing anyone you have a disagreement with or even your competitor. It’s widely known in gaming circles that you had better have DDoS protection if you’re running any type of gaming services.

Different types of DDoS attacks

DDoS attacks are generated and distributed in a myriad of forms, from Layer 7 attacks to Teardrops to Pings of Death to Layer 83 attacks. OK, there’s no such thing as a Layer 83 attack, but you get the picture. If there was a Layer 83, cybercriminals would find some way to attack it.

  • TCP connection attacks are designed to overwhelm all available connections to things like firewalls, load-balancers and application servers, whereas volumetric attacks attempt to consume all available bandwidth. The end result – network congestion.
  • In an effort to severely reduce network performance, a DDoS attack may consist of flooding TCP or UDP fragments, which in turn would overwhelm a network’s ability to reassemble the streams.
  • If these cybercriminals wanted to disrupt a specific aspect of a service or an application, it’s possible to generate an attack utilizing a low traffic rate, making the attack much more difficult to identify and mitigate.
  • DNS Reflection is used quite often, as it forges a victim’s IP address, making it possible to amplify the attack by over 70 times in size.



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