What are DDoS Attacks

You may have heard of DDoS attacks or maybe your website has even suffered from one. But what are DDoS attack, really. They’re extremely annoying as they will cripple your website to a halt and essentially make your website useless.

So let’s start with a metaphor. Imagine a bustling marketplace, humming with activity. Now, picture a swarm of fake customers crowding the entrance, preventing genuine patrons from entering. This scenario mirrors a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack in the digital realm.

Someone who deploys a DDoS attacks floods a website or online service with overwhelming traffic from multiple sources. These assaults aim to exhaust server resources, making the website sluggish or entirely inaccessible to legitimate users.

The Technical Blueprint of a DDoS Attack

Let’s delve into the intricacies of DDoS attacks and explore why they pose a significant threat. DDoS attacks leverage numerous (think thousands and thousands) of compromised computer systems as sources of attack traffic. Exploited machines can include computers. But really, any other networked resources such as IoT devices. Yes, your fridge or washingmachine can be part of a DDoS attack.

The flood of incoming messages from all these devices, the connection requests and malformed packets to the targeted website (via its IP address) force it to slow down or crash, denying service to legitimate users.

How a DDoS Attack Unfolds

  1. Infiltration: The attacker infects multiple computers, again, yes, your fridge as well, with malware, creating a network of ‘bots’.
  2. Formation of a Botnet: These ‘bots’ form a ‘botnet’, a group controlled remotely by the attacker.
  3. Launch: The attacker directs the botnet to send requests to the target’s IP address, overwhelming it.
  4. Denial of Service: The surge in bogus traffic clogs the system, denying service to actual users.

Why Are DDoS Attacks a Thing?

Technically, it’s the interconnectedness of devices and the internet’s inherent trust in communications that make DDoS attacks possible. Here’s why:

  • Lack of Verification: The internet’s infrastructure doesn’t always verify where traffic originates, making it easier to spoof IP addresses.
  • Vulnerabilities: Security weaknesses in systems allow for the easy recruitment of bots.
  • Expansive Botnets: The sheer number of internet-connected devices provides a vast pool for attackers to build botnets.
  • Anonymity: Attackers hide their identities behind the myriad of infected devices, complicating traceability.

DDoS Attacks Consequences

DDoS attacks can have devastating consequences for businesses and organizations. Because when your website is down, you obviously can no longer do business with your website. This most obviously results in financial loss. Businesses often suffer severe financial losses due to interrupted operations and lost transactions.

And not just by the attack itself. The cost of mitigating the attack and recovering can be substantial.

But financial loss is not the only negative consequence of DDoS attacks. There are (at least) 3 other:

Data Breach Risk

While a DDoS attack itself doesn’t involve stealing data, it can serve as a smokescreen for more insidious breaches, leaving sensitive data at risk.

Reputation Damage

It takes years takes years to build trust, but seconds to shatter. DDoS attacks can ruin a company’s reputation, making users think twice before engaging with the affected service.

If customer data becomes compromised during an attack, businesses may face legal repercussions, including fines and lawsuits.

How to Mitigate DDoS Attacks

Preventing DDoS attacks entirely may be a tall order, but there are strategies to mitigate their impact:

  • Robust Infrastructure: Design your network with redundancy and the capability to handle unexpected traffic surges.
  • Security Protocols: Implement security measures such as firewalls, anti-spam filters, and intrusion detection systems.
  • Monitoring: Keep a vigilant eye on traffic to detect anomalies swiftly.
  • Response Plan: Develop an incident response plan to act quickly in the event of an attack.

A DDoS is extremely difficult to mitigate, but there is one service that we highly recommend. It’s a service that allows you to literally click on one button that says “I’m under attack”, and it will do everything in its power to make sure legitimate users can actually use your site by blocking all the bad actors. That service is Cloudflare.