Having trouble with DDoS attacks and don't know how to identify, where to begin or how to fix the problem? Don’t worry, I am here to help.
I interviewed an IT professor and he gave me proven tactics that can keep your websites, server, and entire network safe. Stick around to find how to prevent DDoS attacks. We can't stress enough how important it is to pick the best VPN for Windows 10, for example, that actually offers DDoS protection.
What is DDoS?
DDoS stands for (Distributed denial of service). A DDOS attack is typically a cyber-hack intended to disrupt specific servers or network’s normal operation. To achieve a DDoS attack, hackers will completely overwhelm the target site, server, or networks with a constant flood attacks of traffic.
These attacks range from fraudulent requests which take up server resources such as CPU, network bandwidth, and memory causing a denial of service to legitimate user traffic. At this point, the server is too preoccupied with dealing with attacks; this crashes the server or making it inaccessible.
This type of attack can also be used to compromise target firewalls by transmitting massive amounts of intentionally erroneous data. Finally, in certain instances, attackers combine all three DDoS attacks to overwhelm and crash a network completely.
Reasons for DDoS Attacks
DDoS attacks can happen for several different reasons
- A DDoS attack can be executed to achieve a competitive advantage in a game or in business. For instance, an attack could stop a competitor’s website and in return drive user traffic to another business website.
- It could be due to political, ethical, or religious beliefs, voicing your opinion regarding a certain topic, or stop illegal activities also known as hacktivism.
- Extortion attacks used to demand payments in order to stop the disruption.
- The cybercriminal could use DDoS attacks for fun.
- The most common reason for the use of DDoS attacks is to seek revenge
- A DDoS can be a distraction to mask other malicious actions that might be happening in the background.
How Does a DDoS Attack Work?
The attackers will plant malicious software inside less secure computer systems, and then proceed to distribute the malware program over the web taking advantage of web servers, website, and networks.
If a vulnerable PC visits the infected site or opens infected email attachments, the DDoS malware will automatically be installed on their computer systems without the owner’s knowledge. And these army systems of infected computers, also known as a botnet, will then send consecutive requests to the target site or server leading to a volumetric attack.
The botnet may consist of many recruited computers, probably thousands, that are scattered globally. In this case, the attacker’s workstation serves as a control center for the botnet and can schedule attacks at a certain date or time.
Signs You are Experiencing a DDoS Attack
DDoS attacks continue to rise in size, complexity, and frequency, so it is important to know some of the signs you might experience when under a DDoS attack.
- You will experience site connection problems
- Users have a problem accessing your site
- Your webserver or website is responding slowly or its completely unresponsive
- You can use a network analyzer program such as Wireshark to check all the network interfaces that have been found on your web network. Wireshark will capture the data packets’ traffic as they are being transmitted to your network.
How Long Does a DDoS Attack Last?
A DDoS can last for hours or even days depending on the attacker’s intent. Although it will not result in loss of business data or infrastructure, it can cost the victim a great deal of time and money to rectify (read more on data security in this related post).
DoS malicious traffic is designed to overwhelm security and site services, blocking the website or servers from the rest of the internet. As a result, blocking legitimate users from accessing the site or keep it offline.
Types of DDoS Attacks
There’re many types of (distributed denial of service) DDoS attacks that are designed to exploit the weaknesses found in TCP/IP layer 3 and layer 4 protocol attacks. These attacks fall into two main categories;
- Volumetric DDoS attacks
- Application attacks
1. Volumetric based DDoS Attacks
Volumetric attacks are flooding attacks that overload and consume network bandwidth and other system resources causing a denial of service DDoS for legitimate traffic. Volume-based attacks include;
- Ping floods traffic
- ICMP floods
- UDP floods
- Ping of death
- SYN DDoS attack
What is Ping Flood Distributed Denial of Service Attack?
Ping is also called latency. It refers to the time taken for a packet to be transmitted from your device to the destination computer and back again to your device. The ping utility uses the echo request and echo reply messages within the ICMP to help test whether a host is reachable.
It’s another type of volumetric attacks whereby an attacker can use spoofed sources to sends a large number of ICMP packets to echo request that targets the victims’ IP address.
The attacker may use multiple sources to help send as many ICMP echo requests as possible to the victim without waiting for replies. The target host will take twice the amount of bandwidth to receive and send the response to the bots' requests. This will consume the victim’s network resources and may slow or suspend network and other critical services.
What is ICMP Attack?
(Internet Control Message Protocol) ICMP is echo packets from the pings themselves that are used to discover subnets and hosts on networks. ICMP is also used by network devices such as routers to generate error messages to the source IP when there is a network issue preventing the delivery of packets.
Using amplification and reflection, hackers use DDoS to direct floods traffic of ICMP requests targeting a network router. As a result, malicious traffic will cause a denial of service. This is because the router is preoccupied with responding to a large number of requests from spoofed sources.
What is a UDP Attack?
(User Datagram Protocol) UDP is a stateless protocol, which means it doesn’t validate the source of the packet IP addresses. It increases the exchange of messages between communicating devices by allowing transmission of data between host ports before the receiving device can validate the transmission.
Hackers may take advantage of a UDP application, bombards the host victim's communication ports with spoofed traffic requests from recruited DNS or NTP servers. This will make it possible for the attacker to remain anonymous.
There’re different types of UDP based protocols used in amplification attacks today; the most common one uses compromised DNS or NTP servers that are not properly configured.
These reflector servers are tricked into sending UDP response packets to the targeted victim’s IP address instead of the attackers’ IP address, that is why UDP attacks are often associated with (DRDos) distributed reflective denial of service attacks.
What is the Ping of Death?
Also known as a (PoD), in this case, an attacker sends a malformed ICMP packet to the target device’s IP address and when the victim tries to reassemble the malformed packet, it creates a stack overflow. This buffer overflow causes the victim device to crash and a potential vulnerability to attacks.
What is an SYN Flood Attack?
For one to establish communication between a client device and a server, they must be able to agree on a sequence number to label and order transmission packets between the two devices, also referred to as handshake.
In an SYN attack, a hacker initiates a large number of half-opened connections to the server without finalizing the connection. The server is tricked and responds to the connection request. It then devotes its resources to waiting for feedback from the spoofed sources.
2. Application Layer Attacks
Application-level attacks are designed to target utilities such as FTP, SMTP, HTTP, TLS, and HTTPS on layers 5 through 7 in the OSI stack. Around the world, application-layer attacks have become effective because they are hard to detect, they seem legitimate, and yet they’re not focused on volume but on small specialized attack sequences. Unlike flood attacks, application-layer attacks often employ "low and slow" tactics, gradually saturating each web server thread with abnormal traffic and preventing legitimate requests.
Some of the common application-level DoS protocol attacks include;
- HTTP floods attack is designed to target online services such as the website by repeatedly trying to access the same web page over and over.
- WordPress XMLRPC attack is one of the application layers attacks which exploits a vulnerability on WordPress
- Layer 7 HTTP attack– designed for website cache bypass
Tactics to Prevent DDoS Attacks & Keep Your Website Safe
There are different DDoS attack risk prevention strategies that you can apply to ensure that you effectively block attackers. These DDoS mitigation measures will also help protect access by genuine traffic. The objective of any DDoS mitigation is protection against system failure and keeping the services up.
Find out how your business can save money by preventing DDoS attacks;
- You need to prevent a DDoS attack instead of being caught unaware. Also, make sure to train your team for a DDoS attack.
- Install an active website firewall which will play a big role in network traffic monitoring and protection; this will make it possible to prevent DDoS attacks before they cause damage.
- You need to ensure your network devices such as a firewall and servers are properly configured to avoid the risk of security vulnerabilities and avoid cybercriminals from recruiting them in a bot.
- Subscribe to a cloud-based service or hosting provider because they have more bandwidth and a large network infrastructure compared to your business premise data hosting.
- You need to recruit skilled administrators that can tell the signs of a DoS attack and initiate protection measures like a response plan to protect your data centers.
- Outsource DDoS defense service from third-party cloud security companies who are likely to have the best cybersecurity defense system or even better, they employ security experts that can tailor make a solution for your business protection against attacks and data loss.
- Make sure to carry out a regular network vulnerability assessment that measures and identifies security weaknesses in network infrastructure and then, patch them to prevent DDoS attacks.
- In this era of cloud computing, every business will need to ensure they have the best network security infrastructure or DDoS protection such as firewalls and data centers’ security to prevent protocol attacks.
- The other way of preventing DDoS attacks is installing firewalls across your network in order to monitor suspicious traffic and block malicious activities. The firewall will protect and prevent volumetric attacks which plays a big role in DDoS attack prevention.
1. How does a DDoS attack work?
Mitigating DDoS attacks are conducted via networks of Internet-connected computers. When a botnet targets a victim's server or network, each bot sends requests to the target's IP address, possibly overloading the server or network and resulting in a denial-of-service attack against normal traffic.
2. Are DDoS attacks illegal?
DDoS assaults are against the law. A violation of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act can result in up to ten years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
3. Why DDoS attack is dangerous?
By flooding servers, websites, and web services with an overwhelming amount of requests, these assaults cause them to fail. Resources that are not meant for large loads eventually cease to function, rendering them unavailable to users. To prevent a DDos attack in your network, develop a DDoS prevention plan based on a thorough security assessment.
4. How long does a DDoS attack last?
DDoS attacks can last up to 24 hours, and effective communication can help minimize the impact to your organization while you are under attack.
5. Why preventing a Dos attack important?
DoS attacks are frequently directed at large organizations or banks; they can also wreak havoc on a business's reputation if users are unaware of why a website or service is unavailable. As a result, understanding how to thwart and have solid DDoS response plan to prevent these attacks is important for corporate operations and preventing lost revenue.