(The Hosting News) – Denial of Service attacks have been around since the Internet first began. It is a malicious attempt by a single person or group of people to cause a web site, victim, or node to deny services to a customer. With hundreds of millions of computers in use all over the world and an estimated billion people on the Internet daily, and with 155 million web sites for both professional and personal use, an attack can cause sites to crash, lose potential customers, or lose their reputations for reliability and dependability.
During a Denial-of-Service attack, a malicious host floods the victim’s web site or personal computer with a volume of traffic needed to deny services to legitimate customers and users. They don’t just happen randomly. Someone might be getting paid to take your site down (competitor) or you angered someone and they are teaching you a lesson (site or organization). In other words, the malicious host tries to exhaust their victim’s bandwidth, computing power, and operating system data structures. In short the hacker tries to overflow servers by sending tons and tons of requests for information. When an attempt starts from a single host of a network, it constitutes a DoS attack; when an attack takes place simultaneously from multiple points, it is a Distributed Denial of Service Attack or DDoS.
What does a DoS and DDoS look like?
There are many prepared programs that automatically find vulnerable systems which attackers use to gain access. The intruder installs new programs, known as “attack tools” on the compromised hosts. The hosts that run these attack tools are known as “zombies” and carry out the attack. Together the zombies form an “army.” From there they break into systems, install programs for attacks, infect the malicious codes, and then look for other vulnerable computers.
The most common method of a DoS attack makes lots of demands on a web site bringing it to a crawl and even to a complete stop. The bandwidth and disk space is used up so that legitimate users are unable to access the system, effectively shutting down the site and often crashing the system.
Another method is to flood email accounts with spam messages until the mailbox is overwhelmed and can no longer receive any messages from legitimate sources.
In a Denial of Service attack, an attacked computer can be used as a weapon to flood a third party’s email account or web site with information requests shutting down your system as well as another party’s system; the tragic results of a problem hurting multiple systems.
What are the obvious symptoms of a DoS attack?
Although you can’t be certain that it is a DoS attack if any of the following occur to your site, be sure to notify your system administrator or security provider.
- Are you having a hard time opening your files or accessing your website? Is your network really slow or is it just not responding at all?
- Are you receiving an abundance of spam emails?
- Are you having trouble accessing other websites?
Remember a DoS attack can prevent you from accessing your bank accounts, private files, or other services.
What can you do to fend off DoS attacks?
Once a site is under attack, there are not many things that can be done. The good news is that the attack is generally limited to a relatively short time period. A user always has the option of waiting it out since most cease after 72 hours, but that can be a death sentence to those who use their websites to earn a living. There are, however some practical precautions to be taken to help minimize damage or even stop one from happening.
- Have a working knowledge of your hosting company; that is be familiar with their security measures. What prevention measures does your web host employ?
- Keep operating system and all software up-to-date. Make sure that antivirus and spyware programs are set to download security to your OS and software programs automatically.
- In order to fend off a DoS attack, make sure to increase server capacity. It will likely deter smaller DoS attacks. During an attack, the demand increases until there is no more capacity.
- Be knowledgeable and check message boards, forums, blogs, and update regularly.
- Keep spam filters operational. If spam is rejected it can’t fill up your inbox. Use firewalls to deny protocols, ports, or IP addresses. Some switches and routers can be configured to detect and protect against DoS using automatic traffic rate filtering and balancing applications.
- Consider using a service that deals in DDoS mitigation and provides DDoS protection services for different kinds of websites. Keep the website of your choice and let a company such as BlockDos.net provide protection by setting up firewalls, providing solutions to handle DDoS attacks and and supplying 24/7 customer support in an acute emergency.
It is interesting to note that DDoS attacks have hit national news from those that refer to themselves as Anonymous Operations, leaders of a “cyber army” called “hactivists” who coordinate online attacks against organizations they perceive are against free speech. They threaten to cripple big business and drop the corporate world to their knees by the touch of a button. Specially designed rogue software has affected Master Charge and Visa as well as PayPal and Amazon. The threat is real; and everyone needs to be vigilant.