When your online traffic’s coming to a halt: DDoS attacks
Almost weekly, the media report another website having been paralyzed by a DDoS attack. But what’s the deal with these kinds of cyber-attacks?
DoS? DDoS? – What’s the difference?
Before addressing DDoS attacks, we should start with explaining DoS attacks. “DoS” is short for “Denial of Service” meaning that an online service or a website is currently not available. This blockade can result from several components of an IT infrastructure facing an overload. DoS attacks are caused by external agents deliberately bombarding a system with more requests than it can process. Network devices, operating systems or particular servers suffer an overload which prevents them from being able to respond to standard requests or with significant time delays. Systems that need to respond to multiple server requests are affected most strongly by a DoS attack.
DDoS or “Distributed Denial of Service” (DDoS) is a common form of DoS. In comparison to DoS, DDoS attacks are based on complex bot nets consisting of computers that have been hijacked beforehand. Here, cybercriminals attack a system not via a single computer, but through a series of requests from several computers, which can be connected to extensive bot nets. Backed by a whole computer network, cybercriminals are able to generate substantially larger traffic than by just using a simple DoS attack. Victims are mostly unaware of their attackers as cybercriminals using bot nets often benefit from malware which has been planted on insufficiently protected computers a couple of months prior to the actual DDoS attack. This is their base for key hacking activities.
What is the goal of such attacks?
Unlike many cybercrime scenarios, the primary goal of DDoS attacks are not the infiltration of a system. However this can be an indirect part of a hack, for example, when a system is blocked in order to distract targets from the attack of another system. Cyber criminals have different goals: overload of bandwidth or system resources, exploiting a security breach or payment of ransomware for restoring a website’s availability etc.
Asking yourself how 1&1 protects customers from DDoS attacks? Stay tuned for the second part of our DDoS post coming soon.
Further information on the 1&1 security initiative can be found here.