The damage caused by DDoS attacks: a guide to prevention and response

4 min

DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service, attacks are an increasingly present threat to the security of online systems. In recent years, these attacks have become increasingly sophisticated and powerful, jeopardizing the availability of online services and the security of sensitive data. Let’s analyze together what a DDoS attack is, how it works, and what the consequences are for companies and users.

What is a DDoS attack?

DDoS attacks are a type of cyber threat that aims to make online services inaccessible. The name “DDoS” stands for “Distributed Denial of Service“.

These attacks are carried out by sending a huge amount of requests to the target server in order to overload it and make the site or service inaccessible to legitimate users.

DDoS attacks can be carried out by a single individual or a group of people using a network of infected computers (known as a botnet) to amplify their power.

First identified in the 1990s, but in recent times these attacks have evolved significantly, becoming increasingly sophisticated and powerful.

Learn about DDoS attacks: how they work and what the consequences are

This type of attack has a significant impact on the availability of online services and data security. A DDoS attack overloads the server, making the website or service inaccessible to legitimate users. This can cause financial losses and reputational damage for companies offering these services.

There are different types of DDoS attacks, each of which aims to overload the server in a different way.

Application-level attacks

Application-level attacks attempt to exhaust the victim’s resources by interrupting services. An example is the HTTP Flood attack that floods the server with numerous HTTP requests as if pressing the page refresh button repeatedly.

These attacks can range from simple to complex, with more advanced implementations using many attacker IP addresses and targeting random URLs via referral links and random user agents.

Protocol attacks

Attacks targeting network protocols, known as state exhaustion attacks, can cause service disruptions because they use an excessive amount of server or network infrastructure resources such as firewalls and load balancers. An example of this type of attack is the SYN flood attack, which exploits the TCP handshake process-a procedure by which two computers establish a network connection-to and send initial connection request SYN packets using spoofed IP addresses, which can exhaust the victim’s resources.

This type of attack can be compared to an employee working in a warehouse who is overwhelmed by an excessive amount of parcel requests, preventing them from fulfilling all requests due to a lack of available resources.

Volumetric attacks

Volumetric attacks attempt to create congestion by sending large amounts of data to the victim and saturating its bandwidth. One example is DNS amplification, a type of cyber attack that attempts to overload a server or network by sending a large amount of DNS requests, using a forged source IP address to make it appear that the request is coming from the victim.

The DNS server responds with a much larger response than the initial request, thus amplifying the network traffic sent to the victim, who is overwhelmed by the volume of incoming data.

This attack can be compared to a magic trick in which a coin appears to increase in size when placed in a special box. In this case, the trick is to generate a very large response from a small request, thus overloading the intended victim.

Protecting against DDoS attacks

Defending against DDoS attacks can be complicated, but there are solutions available to protect online systems from malware. Companies and users need to be aware of how these attacks work and take the necessary steps to protect their systems.

To protect their systems from DDoS attacks, companies and users can take a combination of technological measures and cybersecurity practices. Using DDoS protection solutions, such as firewalls and Internet traffic filters, to block malicious requests before they reach the system is critical.

These solutions can be hosted by the Internet service provider or deployed independently within the corporate network.

In addition, technologies such as the Content Delivery Network (CDN) can help distribute the workload across multiple servers, reducing the number of requests a single server must handle.

This can help mitigate the effects of a DDoS attack, as servers can continue to deliver content even if a portion of them are hit by malicious requests.

Some practical tips

To ensure cyber security, it is essential to keep software and operating systems up-to-date at all times, create strong passwords using secure password generators, and train users on cyber threats and how to avoid them. In addition, it is advisable to conduct regular penetration tests and constantly monitor network traffic for cyber attacks.

Protecting yourself from DDoS attacks is possible with custom solutions based on Artificial Intelligence to block malicious requests. Appropriate security measures reduce the risk of attacks and ensure the uptime of online systems.
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Reacting in time to reduce damage

Responding to a DDoS attack can be complex and time-consuming, but some steps can be taken to minimize its impact.

The first thing to do is to identify the source of the attack, which can be done by analyzing network traffic or using specialized tools.

Once the source is identified, malicious traffic can be blocked or redirected to a DDoS mitigation solution, such as a cloud protection service.

Ensuring your business continuity: conclusions on DDoS attacks

In conclusion, DDoS attacks represent one of today’s most significant cybersecurity challenges. They represent an ever-evolving threat and require constant attention and adequate preparation to ensure online security. Being informed about cyber attacks and mitigating risks safeguards your online presence and guarantees business continuity. We encourage you to review our cybersecurity report, “Cyber Resilience in Modern Times – Strategies and Insights for Tomorrow’s Leaders“, to gain insight into the most advanced defense strategies and best practices in this rapidly evolving field.

The damage caused by DDoS attacks can be enormous, from loss of sensitive data to disruption of business operations. It is critical to be prepared and take appropriate measures to prevent them Click To Tweet

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