A DDoS attack is surprisingly easy to carry out and affects millions of websites worldwide every year, increasing the number of attacks.
DDoS attacks may appear to be an unavoidable side effect of being online; the more popular your site becomes, the more likely you are to be the target of an attack. However, you can lessen the likelihood of a DDoS attack affecting your website.
What is a DDoS Attack?
DDoS stands for distributed denial of service but is commonly referred to as denial of service. A DDoS attack consists of a website being flooded by requests for a brief amount of time, intending to overwhelm the site and inflict it to crash. The ‘distributed’ component means these attacks come from multiple locations at a similar time, compared to DoS, which comes from only one location.
If your website suffers a DDoS attack, you’ll receive thousands of requests from multiple sources over minutes or hours. These requests aren’t the results of a website suddenly getting a spike in traffic: they are automated and will come back to a restricted variety of sources, depending on the scale of the attack.
A DDoS attack isn’t a similar issue as hacking. Although the 2 may be linked, the perpetrators aren’t attempting to access your website’s files or admin. Instead, the high volume of requests causes it to crash or become vulnerable.In some cases, this may be followed by attempts to hack the site once it’s vulnerable; however, in most cases, the aim is to make the site stop working.
It may sound as if there isn’t any way to avoid a DDoS attack: on balance, if someone decides to flood your website with requests, there isn’t much you can do to prevent them.
But although you can’t do much to prevent someone from attempting to wreck your website with a DDoS attack, you can take steps to make sure that if you’re subject to an attack, your site won’t stop operating, and it won’t be prone to hacking.
How a DoS Attack Works
Denial-of-service attacks tend to focus on internet servers of high-profile organizations, like banking, e-commerce and media corporations, and government entities. Perpetrators trail organizations’ assets in one among 2 ways: either by overwhelming their networks with massive traffic volumes or sending nefarious data like bugs that may trigger a crash. No matter the tactic, the intended outcome is the same: to take the network or machine down. Additional networks or assets not targeted by the DoS attackers may additionally be wedged if the DoS victim is an internet or cloud service supplier for others.
A more dangerous variety of a DoS attack is a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS). In these commonly attempted cases, an attack perpetrated by multiple systems as hostile as a basic DoS attack will impact or completely take out of service any internet-facing service. DDoS attacks may also be used to distract organizations from alternative criminal activity, like data theft or network infiltration.
Common Distributed Denial of Service Attack Types
A UDP flood is often outlined as a DDoS attack that floods random ports on remote targets with UDP (User Datagram Protocol) packets. This makes the host ceaselessly lookout for the application related to these datagrams and (when no such application is found) respond with the assistance of a ‘Destination Unreachable’ packet. This whole mechanism saps host resources and can ultimately cause inaccessibility on the user’s part.
ICMP (Ping) Flood
The ICMP or ping flood attack targets resources with ICMP Echo Request (ping) packets based on the same principle as that of the UDP flood attack. This attack mainly focuses on pushing the packets as quickly as possible without caring for replies. Both incoming and outgoing bandwidths are suffering from this attack. The overall system further slows down because the victim’s servers begin responding with ICMP Echo Reply packets.
In the case of an SYN flood DDoS attack, a known vulnerability within the TCP connection sequence (the “three-way handshake”) is exploited. In the SYN flood attack situation, the requester sends multiple SYN requests. However, none responds to the host’s SYN-ACK or dispatches the SYN requests from a spoofed IP address. In either of the cases, the host system keeps on expecting acknowledgment for any of the requests. This continues until no new connections can be made, which ultimately ends up in the denial of service.
In the case of an HTTP flood DDoS attack, an attacker exploits seemingly authentic HTTP POST or GET requests to attack applications and web servers. During an HTTP flood attack, reliance on malicious packets, web spoofing, or other reflection techniques is rare. Furthermore, bringing down the targeted site or server requires less network bandwidth than other attacks. When the attacker forces the target server or application to allocate the maximum amount of resources possible in exchange for each request, the attack becomes the most dangerous.
Ping of Death
The overall maximum length of an IP packet is around 65,535 bytes. However, the Data Link Layer on the networks poses certain limits on the scale of packets. In the case of the Ping of Death DDoS attack, an attacker bombards a target machine with a series of contorted or malicious pings. In such a situation, these packets are split into multiple smaller packets and are later reassembled by the beneficiary host into complete packets of the specified size. However, recipients receive IP packets of larger sizes that overflow their memory buffers under an attack situation. This ultimately ends up in the denial of service for authentic packet requests.
Types of DDoS Attacks
DDoS attacks can be categorized into three major types.
Volume-Based Distributed Denial of Service Attacks
These attacks aim at saturating the bandwidth of the target websites or servers by overwhelming them with huge volumes of illegitimate traffic. ICMP floods, UDP floods and alternative spoofed-packet flood attacks fall under the class of volume-based attacks.
Protocol or Network-Layer Distributed Denial of Service Attacks
By sending large amounts of spoofed packets, protocol or network-layer attacks deplete the resources of the target infrastructure tools. Sometimes measured in PPS (Packets per Second), these attacks include Ping of Death attacks, SYN floods, and Smurf DDoS attacks.
Application-Layer Distributed Denial of Service Attacks
Attacks on the application layer entail flooding applications with malicious requests in order to overwhelm them. At first glance, these requests appear to be legitimate. They eventually cause a denial of service by crashing the entire web server. Slow and low-level attacks, such as POST or GET floods, are used to target Windows, Apache, and OpenBSD vulnerabilities. RPS is a unit of measurement for the severity of these attacks (Requests per Second).
The Effects of a DDoS Attack
A DDoS attack has various effects, depending on the nature of the attack.
The most immediate and obvious result is that your website is swamped and unavailable.
This means any business you gain via your website won’t be available to you until you get the site operating again. It conjointly impacts your reputation as a website owner. And if you don’t fix the site quickly, it will affect your SEO as if Google crawls your website and finds it out of action. You’ll lose rank.
Suppose your website is unavailable because of being overloaded. In that case, it will return a 502 bad gateway error, which will negatively impact your search rankings if you permit it to stay that way for too long.
Server and Hosting Issues
If your website is subject to regular attacks that you simply don’t take steps to mitigate, this might cause problems with your hosting provider.
A good hosting provider can provide you with tools to secure your website against DDoS attacks. However, if you don’t have this and are on shared hosting, the attacks might impact different sites on the same server.
A DDoS attack might render your website more vulnerable to hacking as all of your systems are centered on getting the site back online, and security systems may have been put out of action by the attack.
Hackers might then find it easier to make their way onto your site via a back door once the DDoS attack has paralyzed your site.
Follow-up attacks like this won’t frequently come from the same source because of the requests that formed the DDoS attack, and a creative hacker will know how to cover their tracks and use multiple IP addresses to attack your website and hide their real location.
So if you are the victim of a DDoS attack, one of your priorities should be ensuring your WordPress site is secure. This is more important than getting your public-facing site up and running again, as another attack will only take you back to square one.
DDoS Attack Prevention and Protection
Organizations can take the following actions toward Distributed-Denial-of-Service attack protection and prevention:
Monitor and analyze network traffic
A firewall or intrusion detection system can monitor network traffic. Administrators configure rules that create alerts for unusual traffic, identify traffic sources or drop network packets that meet precise criteria.
Strengthen their security posture
This includes strengthening all internet-facing devices to prevent compromise, installing and maintaining antivirus packages, establishing firewalls configured to protect against DoS attacks and following strong security practices to monitor and manage unwanted traffic.
Organizations can enroll in a service that detects or redirects abnormal traffic flows usually related to a DoS attack, permitting traditional traffic to precede the network.
Establish a DoS attack response arranges
The goal is to create and practice a disaster recovery plan for DoS attacks that covers communication, mitigation and recovery.
Some Additional ways to cope with DDoS attacks
- a penetration testing must be performed frequently which can be done by ThreatScan. ThreatScan’s automated engine and fully managed manual penetration test, we test over 120+ different checklists which includes owasp top 10 and additional checks designed for your web application. ThreatScan is considered to be one of the best penetration testing as a service platform in the industry.
- Techniques for detecting attack traffic must be improved. On a multi-dimensional testing platform, each server request should be tested in real-time.
- To reduce the impact on business and improve the speed of response, organizations must replace artificial troubleshooting with other techniques like machine intelligence.
- To filter out attack traffic, steps must be taken that organically combine various dimensions such as intelligent identification techniques, imposing fines, and making the control unit more flexible.