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DDoS Attacks: A Global Danger

DDoS attacks (distributed denial of service attacks) are a form of cyber attack that involves using a network of infected devices, usually computers, to overload or disrupt a server or online service. In this way, the normal operation of such service or website is impaired, as well as the user experience.


The most common targets


With the increasing reliance on digital services for communication, commerce, and other means, distributed denial-of-service attacks pose a significant threat.

They can target many different types of systems, networks, and online services. In general, the most common ones include:

  • Web sites and servers of companies, organizations and governments;

  • Infrastructures of internet and telecommunications service providers;

  • Online gaming systems and video streaming platforms;

  • Energy, water and transport networks;

  • E-commerce services and online banking;

  • Social networking platforms and online forums.

In recent times, DDoS attacks have increased, especially related to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. According to Kaspersky, a reputable cybersecurity company, several prominent targets were identified that suffered Large scale DDoS attacks during the first half of 2022. These targets include organizations such as NATO, the Israel Airport Authority, the London Port Authority in the UK, the Turkish Ministry of Defense, the Czech government, public transport websites , Ukrainian government websites, and even major airports in the United States.


How they happen and some types of attacks


This type of attack is carried out using a network of ghost computers, also known as bots, which are remotely controlled by an attacker. Bots are computers that contain malware that causes this attacker to take control of the system.


As soon as the botnet is established, a large number of traffic requests are sent to the target server, with the aim of overloading the capacity and making it unavailable for those using it. These requests can be generated in a number of ways, including sending a large amount of network packets to the server, ping requests, HTTP, or other forms of traffic.

Source: A Hybrid Machine Learning Approach for Detecting Unprecedented DDoS Attacks. Mohammad Najafimehr.

The motives for attackers to carry out a DDoS attack are varied, but in general, it happens with the intention of causing interruptions or financial damage. In addition to extortion, revenge and ultimately blackmail.


While there are cases where it can be done as part of an authorized security test or a true protest action, most attacks are committed by malicious individuals or groups and very difficult to detect and prevent, as traffic requests are simulated as legitimate to the target server as they originate from a wide range of different IP addresses.


There are some types of DDoS attacks, such as:

  1. Flooding attacks: Sending a large volume of traffic to a specific target, making it inaccessible to those who actually use it.

  2. Reflection attacks: Vulnerable network protocols are leveraged to send malicious traffic to the target, disguising its origin.

  3. Amplification attacks: Issuing small requests to third-party servers that respond with vast proportions of traffic, building the impact of the attack.

Some of the consequences


There are numerous negative consequences for both end users and organizations that are targeted by these attacks. Some include:

  • Interruption of online services: DDoS attacks overload servers and systems, making those who need to use them unable to access digital services. The result is prolonged downtime of these services, which tends to lead to lost business, dissatisfied customers and reputational damage.

  • Exposure to security vulnerabilities: These attacks can also be used as a distraction tactic to hide others of the genre, such as stealing data or exploiting vulnerabilities. As a result, companies are more easily exposed to more serious crimes.

  • Reputation damage: If a company fails to deal with an attack efficiently, its reputation is immediately affected. Customers lose trust in the company and the public may perceive it as vulnerable and unable to protect its services.

  • Mitigation costs: In the face of DDoS attacks that organizations become the target of, they spend significant resources to mitigate the attack and restore their services online. This includes system and infrastructure upgrades, hiring security experts, and purchasing additional security solutions.

  • Loss of Revenue: Businesses that rely on services in the digital environment to generate revenue may suffer financial loss as a result of such an attack. When online services are disrupted, customers look for alternatives and the company loses business to competitors. Furthermore, DDoS attacks are illegal in many countries and lead to lawsuits, fines and even prison terms for those responsible.

Attacks represent a serious deterrent for companies with significant effects. To avoid, they must have the right preparation to deal with the crime in question and implement adequate cybersecurity measures to minimize the risk.


How to prepare for a possible DDoS attack?


There are several measures and best practices that security teams can adopt to prepare for and prevent DDoS attacks. Some are:

  1. Implement Firewalls and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS): Next-generation firewalls can block suspicious or unusual traffic, while intrusion detection and prevention systems can identify and alert on potential attacks.

  2. Use Secure Protocols: Secure protocols such as Secure Shell (SSH) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) can help prevent protocol attacks.

  3. Network Segmentation: Network segmentation allows you to limit the impact of a successful attack and facilitates its isolation and mitigation.

  4. Restrict Access: Only allowing access to certain services and applications to authorized users can limit the attack surface, following the principle of zero trust architectures.

  5. Using Load Balancers: Load Balancers distribute traffic evenly across multiple servers, preventing the overload of a single server during an attack.

In conclusion, DDoS attacks pose threats to the security and stability of the internet. They can cause significant disruptions to online services, causing financial losses and damage to the reputation of affected institutions. To mitigate it, it is necessary to implement robust security standards, such as the use of firewalls, traffic filters and DDoS protection solutions.


In addition, you should always be up to date on the latest threats and vulnerabilities in order to adopt preventive measures and maintain the security of your network and online systems. Collaboration between companies and regulators is also critical to ensuring a safe and reliable internet for all users.


And you, how do you protect your company against DDoS attacks?

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