A DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) is a cyberattack that attempts to disrupt the normal online services of a server or network. By flooding a server with fraudulent internet traffic, a DDoS aims to overwhelm the server, crashing its services and thereby preventing access for normal computer users. The results of a DDoS can range from frozen or slow-loading webpages to entire websites, applications, or businesses being taken offline.
How does it work?
Let’s break it down: a DoS (denial-of-service) attack is a cyberattack that comes from one source. For example, a hacker may use their own system to flood a server with fake traffic and interrupt its services. Most servers can handle a DoS, as it’s easy to pinpoint where the attack is coming from, and the server can simply close the connection from the single source.
A DDoS attack, however, is more like a cyber-Blitzkrieg. Using a botnet, a hacker will recruit other computers to launch a DoS attack from multiple sources, simultaneously. This means that up to thousands of individual devices will send data or requests for data to a server at once, drowning the server in more traffic than it can accommodate and making it difficult to detect the source of the attack.
Why launch a DDoS attack?
DDoS attacks target businesses that provide online services: common victims are financial, e-commerce, and government organizations. Hackers may be financially motivated, attempting to dismantle a competitor in the marketplace, or perhaps politically driven, aiming to obstruct political content on the web. Whatever the objective, DDoS attacks are a primary concern in internet security today and pose a leading risk to the access of public information and online services.
- All servers have a limit to the amount of online traffic they can manage. A DDoS takes advantage of this restriction by facilitating an influx of fake traffic to a server and overwhelming its bandwidth.
- Strength in numbers: a DDoS attack leverages a large number of computers to attack a server at once, making the attack both powerful and difficult to pinpoint
- While DDoS attacks are almost impossible to prevent, the most effective protection is to use an anti-DDoS service provider to filter income fraudulent traffic launched by the hacker.