Malicious hackers use Distributed Denial of Service attacks to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users. Almost every type of online service is at risk. At best, a DDoS attack will cause inconvenience and chaos; at worst it can bring down a business and gain access to sensitive data, compromising security of services such as online banking, email and voicemail. So it is worth knowing exactly how it works and what you can do to better protect yourself.
How does a DDos attack work?
Perpetrators can use a variety of methods to conduct an attack. However, in the simplest terms, a DDoS works by employing multiple systems or botnets to bombard a targeted system with traffic until it no longer responds to legitimate users. Overloading a server with connections prevents it from being able to accept any new ones.
Use of multiple attack machines instead of just one is what differentiates a DDoS attack from a DoS attack because it is literally distributed. The more bots that are used, the more difficult it is to get the attack under control.
How is it triggered?
Computers infected with viruses become what are referred to as zombies because they are under the control of the hacker. In the case of a distributed-denial-of-service attack, it is often a Trojan virus that allows remote command-and-control.
What are the targets?
DDoS attacks can target any online server, website or network. To date, there have been some big names that have fallen victim to this form of strike, including the infamous MyDoom that caused havoc for Microsoft. Amazon, Ebay and Yahoo are amongst others – showing that no one is completely immune.
What are the effects?
The main aim of a DDoS attack is to slow down or disable sites and servers by flooding them with false traffic. Therefore any company that operates online services will suffer if their server is targeted and breached.
Potential and existing custom could be lost when people are unable to access a site to browse or make a purchase. But in more serious circumstances, sensitive data could also be compromised.
How can it be prevented?
Because a distributed-denial-of-service attack is reliant on malware or a virus such as Trojan, the best way to increase your protection is to install anti-virus and anti-malware software on every machine in your network. This software also needs to be kept rigorously up to date. Viruses can be hidden in seemingly innocent applications, such as online games and email spam, so ensure all employees are cautious about their online activities. Keep the number of devices connected to your network server down to a minimum.
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