If you know what it’s like to be stuck in a traffic jam and feel like you’re never going to reach your destination, then you have an overall picture of how a DDoS (Distributed-Denial-of-Service) attack looks like. And if you’re an online gamer, unless you haven’t already faced such a threat, you’re well aware this is always a potential risk.
Whether in the gaming, financial industry, ecommerce or wired telecommunications, a DDoS attack isn’t only the equivalent of ‘Game Over’. Apart from creating a disruption, DDoS attackers’ goal is to steal your money, data, or intellectual property.
As these threats have become 5 times more frequent, knowing how to fend off DDoS attacks is essential.
Let’s dig deeper into a DDoS attack’s maneuvers and find out how to avoid being a target.
The Common Tactics of a DDoS Attack
This is a great time for cyber-attackers. The pandemic has opened up new horizons for them, adding DDoS attacks to their lucrative business. People worldwide work or study remotely and make most of their transactions and shopping online, now more than ever. Because all of us heavily rely on web services, it makes DDoS attacks easier to employ.
Through a DDoS attack, bad actors try to disrupt (partially or completely) users’ access to a service (mostly websites) or equipment.
While a system or a website is down, attackers seize this opportunity and access a company’s resources.
Here’s how a DDoS attack works in the background:
The ‘denial-of-service’ part
Every time you go to a web page, you send a request to the site’s computer system to give you access.
With a DDoS attack, perpetrators ‘flood’ a website with fake requests(most times with the help of botnets), overloading the system. Websites and networks can only process a certain number of requests at once, so the DDoS stops requests from genuine users to get through.
The ‘distributed’ part
To overwhelm one or more servers, cybercriminals use several computers and their network connections from many different geographical locations simultaneously. This makes it difficult to distinguish legitimate user traffic from attack traffic and, thus, nearly impossible to pinpoint the attackers.
DDoS attacks saw an increase of 454% in 2021, which is 5.5 times higher compared to 2020.
Most affected industries by DDoS attacks in 2021:
- financial services
- wired telecommunication carriers
- data processing services
- hosting and related services
- wireless telecommunication carriers
Recently, DDoS attacks have started to go hand in hand with ransomware attacks, making them more dangerous as they combine service disruption, file encryption, and data theft. This threesome increases ransomware gangs’ odds of getting their requested payments.
Recent Notorious DDoS Attacks
Several big names have been the target of DDoS attackers. Check the most recent famous examples:
Paying Attention to DDoS Signs
In most cases, when customers start complaining, it’s the moment when a company realizes something’s wrong and eventually discover it was hit by a DDoS attack that may have started to do damage a long while back.
Indeed, DDoS attacks are usually likely to hit prominent and notorious businesses, but they can also affect small companies, blogs, or personal websites.
The even worse part is usually, there’s no crystal clear warning of a DDoS attack. Still, there are a few red flags that will make you wonder. Here’s where you need to look into:
1. Unusual Large Number of Spam Emails
A small amount of spam emails is normal, but when hundreds or thousands of them are a sign of a DDoS mail flood type of attack.
2. Slow Servers
As soon as the DDoS plane takes off, servers will slow down, responding in minutes instead of seconds. While slow servers is not necessarily the sign of a denial of service attack, it’s still something you need to investigate and find its root cause.
3. Slow Computer Performance
As DDoS attackers may target a specific machine and overcrowd its network, this will cause a slower performance of your device.
If you think you or your business is experiencing a DDoS attack, contact your network administrator or ISP.
This will help you figure out if the service outage is due to maintenance or a network issue. Network administrators can further look into and confirm the presence of a DDoS attack, in which case, they can reroute your traffic through a DDoS protection service.
How to Prevent DDoS Attacks
DDoS attacks have a huge negative impact on a business. For instance, in the financial industry, credit card processors that have thousands of transactions per second, a few minutes of downtime can lead to millions of dollars in lost revenues.
Besides the financial loss, a slow performance of a website or even a complete disconnection of services can hurt a company’s reputation and credibility a great deal. However, there are a few twitches you can apply to your device to sidestep DDoS attacks as much as possible.
Install and maintain antivirus software
Antivirus programs today find malware and other malicious programs and removes them before they start harming your PC. They also protect your web activities, preventing you from accessing dangerous websites. Keep in mind to regularly update it!
Install a firewall
Any firewall keeps away dangerous online traffic, ensuring no malicious threats or cyber attacker gains access into your device or network. In addition, you can configure your firewall to restrict traffic coming into and leaving your computer.
Use a VPN
A VPN hides your IP address, making it very hard for DDoS attacks to find your network and, thus, target you. Additionally, a VPN encrypts your web traffic, creating a secure tunnel between your computer and the network, concealing your entire online activity.
What is the most common DDoS attack?
Volumetric DDoS is the most common form of DDoS attack. This kind of attack floods the network with fake attacker-generated traffic to overcrowd all available network bandwidth of a website or application.
Why is the gaming industry frequently hit with DDoS attacks?
First off, DDoS attacks are quite easy to manipulate. Anyone can download a DDoS attack kit and send it to its target machine or server. Second, in the competitive world of online gaming, gamers would do anything to win, so they send their rivals offline. In other cases, DDoS attackers simply do it to boost their reputation.
How to tell if you’re being DDoS-ed during a game?
Sudden outage and unexplained disconnect are the typical signs that you’re facing a DDoS attack. To confirm this is the case, exclude other network errors that might have led to the outage.
1. Unplug your modem and/or router, both at the power source and the network cable.
2. Turn off your computer (or console, if the modem is connected to it directly).
3. Leave everything off for a few minutes, then plug everything back in and turn the equipment on.
4. If the disconnection persists, contact your ISP.
Did you ever abandon using a service after finding out it was the target of a DDoS attack?
Let me know in the comments below.