service denial attacks

How Do DDOS Attacks Work?

DDoS attacks are considered as one of the most popular cyber-attacks and they have the ability to make systems go down for a very long time. Read more to learn how they work and how you can stop them. 

What is a DDoS attack?

DDoS attack (also known as the distributed denial of service attack) is a dangerous and common type of cyber-attacks. It aims to overwhelm the target through disrupting the regular traffic of a service, network or a server.

The perpetrator aims to make a machine or a network source unavailable to its users either temporarily or permanently through the DDoS attack. In order to achieve their goal, the attacker makes use of the Internet to flood the targeted resource or machine with excessive requests. In other words, DDoS attacks create a massive amount of artificial requests and overloads the systems. As a result, the intended users cannot use their machines or systems due to the increased traffic.

One of the most prominent features of the DDoS attacks is the fact that the requests come from many different sources at the same time. As a result, it becomes very difficult to stop the flood of requests since blocking a single source will not stop the other requests from remaining sources will keep coming.

If this explanation confused you a bit, let’s try an analogy. Imagine that the targeted system is a shop. The attackers create an increased traffic at the doors of this shop. Due to the crowd gathered at the doors, the actual customers of the shop cannot go in and buy what they need to buy from there. This increased traffic can cause the shop to close permanently or temporarily in accordance with the severity of damage they cause.

Cyber criminals perform DDoS attacks for various reasons including getting revenge and blackmailing the owners of a machine or system.

What can be done to prevent DDoS attacks?

In order to stop a DDoS attack, many techniques can be employed including attack detection tools, traffic classification tools and immediate response tools.

Attack detection tools allow the cyber security professionals to detect an attack attempt very early. As a result, they can take the necessary preventive measures before the attempt turns into a full blown attack.

Traffic classification tools aim to provide insight and background information on the traffic regarding a network source or a machine, so that the cyber security professionals can distinguish increased traffic caused by DDoS attacks from actual traffic caused by the users.

Immediate response tools come in handy during the DDoS attacks. They help cyber security professionals to block the sources of artificial and increased traffic triggered by an attacker or a hacker. Blackhole routing and DNS sinkholes are two most popular examples of such tools.

Blackhole routing sends all the traffic to a non-existent server also known as a black hole. This way, the traffic caused by a DDoS attack cannot overwhelm the target.

DNS sinkholes serve to route the increased traffic to another valid IP address where requests are analyzed and bad packets are rejected.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial-of-service_attack#Defense_techniques

https://www.mcafee.com/blogs/consumer/consumer-threat-notices/ddos-attack-work/

https://usa.kaspersky.com/resource-center/preemptive-safety/how-does-ddos-attack-work

https://www.esecurityplanet.com/network-security/5-tips-for-fighting-ddos-attacks.html

https://www.cloudflare.com/learning/ddos/what-is-a-ddos-attack/

https://www.techworld.com/security/how-does-ddos-attack-work-3659197/

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