Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are one of the most effective and disruptive weapons in a hacker’s arsenal and are used to try and make a website or online service unavailable by flooding a server with traffic.
DDoS attacks are often used by hacktivist groups and tend to target the websites of financial institutions, businesses and news outlets. The attacks can present a major challenge and can cause disruption to customers. Fortunately DDoS attacks rarely last longer than 8-12 hours as it is difficult to maintain a high volume of traffic for an extended period of time.
How Does A DDoS Attack Work?
Hackers build up networks of computers infected by malicious software, which is often spread via emails and websites. Once a machine is infected it becomes part of a ‘botnet’ and can then be controlled remotely without their owner’s knowledge. The botnet is then used to launch an attack against a target. The largest DDoS attacks can see a hacker using botnets that are millions of machines in strength. The attack can be created several ways such as flooding a server with traffic, sending more connections requests than it can handle or by sending the target huge amounts of random data that use up its bandwidth. On the Dark web it is relatively easy to buy or sell botnets to use in DDoS attacks.
How to Defend Against DDoS Attacks
DDoS attacks can be protected against using a variety of common techniques. A firewall can be configured to deny more than x number of requests. There are also load balancing solutions such as CloudFlare which protect against DDoS attacks.
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