What is Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)?

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) is a category of malicious cyber-attacks that hackers or cybercriminals employ in order to make an online service, network resource or host machine unavailable to its intended users on the Internet. Targets of DDoS attacks are flooded with thousands or millions of superfluous requests, overwhelming the machine and its supporting resources. DDoS attacks are distinct from conventional denial of service incidents in that they originate from distributed, or multiple, sources, or IP addresses.

Evolving DDoS Threats

Distributed denial of service incidents are closely associated with botnets, where hackers take over command and control of thousands of Internet-connected devices, and then in coordinated attacks, direct all of those devices to simultaneously send requests to the target. In recent years, however, hacktivist groups and crime organizations have increasingly begun using attack tools that are easy to obtain and simple to use. These DDoS attack applications – WebHive LOIC is the most well-known – originated as tools for cybersecurity professionals to perform “stresser” testing on websites. In standalone instances they are not capable of carrying out a serious DDoS attack. However, when multiple stresser applications are coordinated together, whether through a botnet or via cloud service, these attack tools can take large commercial websites offline for extended periods.

Challenges:

  • DDoS attacks can be carried out using a variety of tactics – DNS flood, overwhelming available bandwidth, exploiting cloud resources, etc.
  • Hackers are increasingly carrying out lower-intensity “degradation of service” attacks that inflict costly service slowdowns without taking resources fully offline.
  • With the proliferation of IoT devices, the need is growing for endpoint monitoring tools to immediately and effectively halt flooding at both the network and application layers.
  • Once an organization is identified as vulnerable, hackers don’t let up: 87% of DDoS attack victims are targeted multiple times.

You Can Prevent and Stop DDoS Attacks By:

  • Implementing a hybrid approach with dedicated on-premises and cloud-based resources to defend against volumetric, application, reflective and resource-exhaustive DDoS attacks.
  • Extending your security perimeters with multi-layered protection against DDoS attacks.
  • Developing an incident response team that can deploy additional resources to combat and remediate DDoS attacks when they occur.

Key Takeaways

Distributed denial of service attacks are an evolving threat. Massive service outages effecting brand name retailers and large financial service organizations still get the most media attention. Yet the fact is, hackers commonly target organizations in government, education, travel and hospitality, technology, utilities and other sectors with lower intensity DDoS attacks that are harder to detect and remediate. Putting in place a security architecture that enables you to detect, prevent and respond to DDoS attacks is a critical step in any effective cyber security plan.

 
 

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