Back to Basics DDoS Attacks

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks have been in the news lately. Google released details on Friday of an attack in 2017, that was four times larger than any attack known before that time. A Massachusetts school district had issues with its virtual learning platform and replaced multiple firewalls before they realized they were being targeted by a DDoS attack. Corporations are starting to receive emails threatening DDoS attacks if they don’t pay a ransom. In some cases hackers are also threatening to launch a small attack to show these businesses they are serious, and if the business doesn’t pay, they will increase the size of the attack.

With all of these stories in the news, today on the blog we will explore what a DDoS attack is, and how they are being used to disrupt business websites.

A hacker can gain control of a computer or server through phishing or brute force. Once the hacker has control of the system, they can steal data, access other data on an internal server, corrupt data, or they can do nothing. In some cases hackers gain access to a system in order to use that system later. When the hacker has control of a system and can use it to do harm, we call that system a bot. When the hacker has control of many systems and can use them all at the same time, we call this a botnet.

A DDoS attack occurs when hackers use a botnet to create overwhelming internet traffic aimed at a specific target (company) or website. The desired outcome of a DDoS attack is to overload the target by degrading internet or network performance and possibly causing systems to totally crash. Criminals are now using new tools to amplify botnet signals and target websites with massive data numbers like we have never seen before.

We are seeing an increase in both the frequency and size of these attacks. DDoS attacks have increased 150% since the same time in 2019. Also, the size of an individual attack is on the rise. The size of an attack is measured in amount of data the website is bombarded with along with length of time the attack occurs. The attack on Google in 2017 and a more recent attack on Amazon are in the range of terabits-per-second (Tbps) which is larger than we have seen or knew about before.

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Posted by Charles Wright