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Glossary

DDoS attack

What does DDoS stand for?

DDoS stands for “Distributed Denial of Service.”

What is a DDoS attack?

A DDoS attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal functioning of a targeted server, network, or service by overwhelming it with a flood of internet traffic from multiple sources.

DDoS attacks are getting more impactful as more and more devices connect to the Internet through the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT devices often use default passwords and are not very secure, which makes them easy for attackers to compromise and exploit. Many users don’t even realize that their IoT device has been infected, so attackers can easily compromise hundreds of thousands of devices to launch a large-scale attack without the device owners knowing. 

How does a DDoS attack work?

A DDoS attack works by exploiting multiple compromised computers or IoT devices to send a massive amount of traffic to a target system. This coordinated assault from multiple sources overwhelms the target’s resources, causing it to become slow or entirely unavailable to legitimate users.

How to prevent a DDoS attack?

To prevent DDoS attacks, security teams should adopt a multi-layered security strategy, which includes:

  •  A Web Application Firewall (WAF) to filter out malicious traffic before it reaches your servers
  • Regularly monitoring and analyzing network traffic to detect unusual patterns
  • Overprovisioning bandwidth to handle sudden traffic spikes
  • Having an Incident Response (IR) plan detailing the steps to take when a DDoS attack is suspected

What are the different types of DDoS attacks?

There are three main types of DDoS attacks:

  1. Volumetric: These are the most common types of DDoS attacks. They aim to consume the bandwidth of the targeted site by overwhelming it with a massive amount of fake traffic. 
  2. Protocol: These attacks exploit vulnerabilities in the server’s resources rather than the bandwidth. They target specific layers of the communication protocol to disrupt the service. 
  3. Application-level: Also known as Layer 7 DDoS attacks, these target the application layer of the OSI model. The goal of application layer attacks is to exhaust the resources of the target application, making it slow or unresponsive.  

What is the difference between DoS and DDoS attacks?

A DoS attack (Denial of Service) originates from a single machine and aims to make a resource unavailable. In contrast, a DDoS attack originates from multiple machines (often forming a botnet) and has the same objective but is more powerful due to its distributed nature.

How to know if an organization is experiencing a DDoS attack?

An organization may be experiencing a DDoS attack if it observes sudden, unexplained surges in traffic, slow network performance, unavailability of a particular website or service, and unusual patterns in user traffic. Monitoring tools and network traffic analytics can help in early detection.

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