What is a DDoS Attack?

What is a DDoS Attack?

You may have heard the term 'DDoS attack' in the news or on TV shows and been unsure exactly what it means. Well, here at iFactory, we like to keep our readers up to date on the latest tech news and security threats, so here's the lowdown on DDoS.

DDoS = Distributed Denial of Service

'DDoS' stands for 'Distributed Denial of Service'. Whereas a Denial of Service (DoS) attack is an attempt from one IP address to make a network, website or machine inaccessible to users, a DDoS attack comes from multiple (often thousands of) different IP addresses. You could compare it to a crowd of people gathering in a doorway or entry way of a business and not letting authorised parties through.

This most often happens with websites. If a website can't handle many people, the service is denied to all users when a DDoS attacks happens. 

How it's done

This kind of attack comes from multiple IP addresses, but that doesn't mean the attacker has thousands of computers. A common method attackers use is to take control of everyday users' computers. The criminals compromise the computers and use them to attack their target.

Why DDoS attacks happen

Unlike ransomware, data theft and other similar attacks, DDoS attacks most often aren't done by cyber criminals in order to make money. They're usually carried out simply because the criminals can - DDoS attacks are almost the cyber crime equivalent of trolling. 

Some famous examples

The first well-known DDoS attack was carried out in 2000 by Michael Calce, who was 15 years old at the time. He took down Amazon, Dell, eBay, CNN and Yahoo (which was the largest search engine at the time).

On New Year's Eve 2015, a professional group of hackers called New World Hacking used a DDoS attack to take down all of the BBC's websites for approximately three hours. And in 2011, the politically-motivated hacking group Anonymous attacked PayPal, causing the company to lose $5.5 million in trading.

The extent of the attacks

Over 2,000 DDoS Attacks are observed on a daily basis globally by Arbor Networks. And Verisign reports that around one third of all downtime incidents are attributed to DDoS attacks. This is staggering as even a minute of downtime can cost a business thousands of dollars. And perhaps even more shockingly, a report by TrendMicro found that on the black market, just US$150 can buy a week-long DDoS attack.

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