Tech Talk Live Blog

DDoS Attacks Are Growing

Jessica Diller

Did you know that one out of three downtime incidents are attributed to DDoS attacks? Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks occur when multiple compromised systems are used to target a single system causing a denial of service.  The attack is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources (Digitalattackmap.com).  For example, if someone tells 1,000 individuals to call the same number multiple times at the same time, the phone line that they are calling would get flooded with calls overwhelming that line with traffic causing a denial of service.

Who are the attackers?

An attacker can be anyone. An individual can purchase a week-long DDoS attack on the black market for about $150. The problem with DDoS attacks is the attackers can hide pretty easily, making it very hard to track the source.

How do attackers build capacity?

According to Microsoft Security Center​, the term bot is short for robot. Attackers distribute malicious software (also known as malware) that can turn your computer into a bot (also known as a zombie). When this occurs, your computer can perform automated tasks over the Internet, without you knowing it.

Attackers typically use bots to infect large numbers of computers. These computers form a network, or a botnet.

Once infected, these botnets are used like an army to launch an attack against any target. Some botnets are millions of machines strong.

How do attackers launch an attack?

Botnets can generate huge floods of traffic to overwhelm a target. These floods can be generated in multiple ways, such as sending more connection requests than a server can handle, or having computers send the victim huge amounts of random data to use up the target’s bandwidth. Some attacks are so big they can max out a country’s international cable capacity.

What are the types of attacks?

There are four common categories of attacks:

  • TCP Connection Attacks – Occupying connections
  • Volumetric Attacks – Using up bandwidth
  • Fragmentation Attacks – Pieces of packets
  • Application Attacks – Targeting applications

How do they amplify their attacks?

There are two ways attacks can multiply the traffic they send:

  • DNS Reflection – Small request, big reply
  • Chargen Reflection – Steady streams of text

How can an organization prevent an attack?

Unfortunately DDoS attacks are hard to prevent and even harder to track back to the originator. Organization should work with their internet provider security teams to come up with a plan and mitigation techniques if an attack were to occur on their network.

To learn more about DDoS attacks visit Google Ideas and Arbor Networks website. Google Ideas published a great video on Understanding DDoS Attacks. Google Ideas. (n.d.). What is a DDoS Attack? Retrieved January 23, 2015.

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