You may have heard the term “DDoS attack” mentioned in online circles, especially when talking about website security, but what is it exactly? A DDoS, or distributed denial-of-service, attack is an attempt by a cybercriminal to flood a server with traffic to overwhelm its infrastructure. This causes a site to slow to a crawl or even crash so legitimate traffic won’t be able to reach the site. This type of attack can do a lot of damage to your online business.
These cyberattacks can run a wide range of purposes, from annoyance and “hacktivism” to massive loss of business. What makes these unique compared to other forms of hacking is the motivation. While other forms of malware, like ransomware and scareware, are attempts to siphon money from a victim, DDoS attacks are purely designed for chaos and disruption.
The amount of downtime and damage they can cause is why they are talked about so often. Hackers employ DDoS attacks regularly, and you need to be on the lookout for them so they do not impact you too severely.
How Does a DDoS Attack Work?
Most DDoS attacks are done with botnets – groups of computers all acting together. These computers will all attempt to access a website simultaneously, overwhelming the server and bringing it down.
How do they get these botnets? By hijacking other machines. Often, a hacker will use malware or take advantage of an unpatched vulnerability on someone else’s server to gain access to it via Command and Control (C2) software. By leveraging these exploits, hackers are able to amass large numbers of computers in a relatively cheap and easy way, which they can then deploy for their own nefarious purposes.
Once they have control over enough machines, the hackers can then issue a command to the entire botnet, which then attempts to access the target server. When too many computers are trying to access a server all at once, service outages are common. The end result is an interruption in service and lost productivity.
This can be anything from a childish prank to revenge against a business. And while it sounds harmless at first, it’s important to know that the average cost of a DDoS attack to even small business operations can be as…