Stories of hackers knocking websites offline are not new. Most of the time, DDoS attacks are behind network outages or service unavailability. But what is a DDOS attack, and how can you recognize one?
A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is when a cybercriminal or attacker attempts to disrupt a web-based service or network so people won’t have access to them. They do this by blocking access to devices, applications, networks, services, and servers.
Typical DDoS attacks originate from different systems. If the attack is original from one source, it’s a DDoS attack.
All attacks have one goal—to drown a system with data requests. Attackers could send many requests to a webserver to serve a page until it crashes under the weight of traffic. Others might target a database with a high volume of queries until the RAM, CPU, or internet bandwidth gets overwhelmed.
What are the Symptoms of a DDoS Attack?
DDoS attacks mirror some non-malicious availability issues like a slow or downed server, a flood of legitimate requests from web users, or even a cut cable. A traffic analysis can help determine the source of the problem.
Typical DDoS symptoms range from a slow internet connection to a virus infection. Depending on the scale or intensity of attacks, your device or network may exhibit these symptoms:
- Slow access to local or remote files
- Inability to access a particular website for long
- Erratic internet connection
- Difficulty accessing all websites
- A large number of spam emails
Most symptoms are hard to identify, as they may seem like everyday computer trouble. If any of the above occur for extended periods, you could be experiencing a DDoS attack.
How Do DDoS Attacks Work?
While DDoS attacks vary in intensity and sophistication, they have a simple theory behind them. A DDoS attack aims to knock out a server, website, or network by flooding it with internet traffic.
The massive amounts of traffic can overwhelm the target – its service, website, or network – and render it inoperable.
Types of DDoS Attacks
There are three types of DDoS attacks, and each one has the same effect on your website:
- Volume-based attacks: Attackers send bogus traffic to overwhelm a website or server. They can take the form of UDP, ICMP, and spoofed-packet attacks in bits per second (bps).
- Network-layer DDoS attacks: This a protocol type of attack, and it sends huge data packets to a target’s network infrastructure and management tools. Examples include Smurf DDoS and SYN floods.
- Application-layer attacks: Cybercriminals use these attacks to flood applications with malicious requests. The standard unit of measuring application-layer attacks is in requests per second (RPS).
Protecting Yourself from DDoS Attacks
Any successful protection protocol starts with determining vulnerabilities. Once you know your weak areas, you can defend yourself and mitigate DDoS attacks better.
Take Immediate Action
Act swiftly the moment you notice a DDoS attack happening. The earlier you spot an attack, the easier it is to contain the damage. You can find convenient anti-DDoS services that can help you differentiate normal traffic spikes from a DDoS attack.
Notify your internet service provider (ISP) of the attack and ask whether they can re-route traffic. Your ISP may use Black Hole Route to direct traffic into a null route, keeping your website and network from crashing.
Dispersing massive DDoS traffic among different servers also tends to render attacks ineffective, and you should always back up your information before it faces these risks.
Configure Firewalls and Routers
Ensure your IT and security team configure your firewalls and routers to reject bogus traffic, and remember to update your firewalls with the latest security patches. Don’t forget to use front end hardware, which integrates into the network. It screens and classifies data packets before traffic gets to your server.