What is a DDoS Attack?
The internet just might be one of the greatest inventions of our generation. With that greatness comes many drawbacks that pose a direct threat to your business and personal information. One of the most common exploits plaguing the internet today is the dreaded DDoS attack. Short for distributed denial of service, a DDoS occurs when a number of compromised computers attack a single targeted system. The result is a denial of service for anyone attempting to use the victimized system. By flooding a computer or web server with incoming messages, the machine is forced to shut down, thus denying service to even legitimate users.
A DDoS attack is one of the many tools in a hacker’s arsenal. It begins by exploiting a single vulnerability in a system and making the first compromised machine the “master”. From there, the attacker uses the master system to seek out and communicate with other machines, finding their vulnerabilities and enslaving them as well. A DDoS attack may consist of hundreds to thousands of compromised computers. By using a single command, the attacker can instruct those machines to initiate one of numerous attacks on specific systems. Though most tend to focus on the targeted machine and declare it as the victim, a DDoS attack claims several victims, including the systems used in the attack. When investigating the source of the attack, it typically leads back to the first compromised machine, allowing the actual intruder to skate off without a trace.
What Makes a DDoS Attack Dangerous?
When hit with a DDoS attack, the victim might observe traffic from thousands of systems represented by computers throughout the world. In order to stop the attack, each address must be traced back to the system or network from which it came. From there, the organization partially responsible for the attack must be contacted and asked to help fix the targeted system. This could be a huge challenge and inconvenience, especially when considering organizational and international boundaries.
Once the appropriate organizations have been identified, the victim must ask each of them one by one to either help clean up or shut down their compromised system. This could be a critical network system responsible for running a web hosting service or other mission-critical tasks. Perhaps the organization doesn’t have their IT staff available on nights or week. Maybe they speak an entirely different language. Even worse, they may not have authority or be willing to help out at all. The more systems involved in a DDoS attack, the greater the damage and the longer it will take to track down organizations and rectify the problem.
DDoS attacks are very real and have taken down some of the internet’s most prominent companies. Web hosting companies are not off limits as their servers are prime targets. Some merely rely on firewalls which are effective against various threats, yet virtually useless against DDoS attacks. LunarPages is one provider who understands the severity of this exploit and has taken the measure to protect their network and customer data with state of the art DDoS protection software. Though it is very little you can do to protect your website from such an attack, a proactive web host can make all the difference.
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