Internet – One of the greatest technological gifts to humans in the modern era. On top of this, the introduction of World Wide Web transformed the way we connected with each other in the real world. In addition, there has been a rise in businesses with e-commerce portals. We no longer need to step out of our homes and browse through the streets to buy products since the evolution of eCommerce and online security have made it convenient for us to shop from the comfort of our homes. This has inturn offered a positive opportunity for many small and medium scale enterprises to display their products/services at a reduced price compared to the traditional ways.
The Internet has undoubtedly proven to be beneficial for everyone, which includes the good and the bad – it has its own threats and hazards too. One of the most posed threats to websites is the downtime – which may be due to any reasons. Downtime in simple terms is the unavailability of a webpage OR an entire website. When a prospect visits it, they cannot find the information they look for. The customers/prospect doesn’t have a choice but to visit other sites, resulting in loss of sales to your business. Also, if the website remains down for elongated period of time then there may be various opportunities for you that might take a toll. There are very few who are aware of the fact that a situation of downtime can be used purposely against a website. It can be anyone from a notorious newbie, an unsatisfied employee or even your competitor who might have ill interests about your business. The only thing required is a professional hacker capable of executing a DDoS attack.
DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service, is an attack conducted by an anonymous entity. In this the server is burdened with too many requests that can’t be handled. When these requests aren’t processed in real time due to the heavy flood of traffic sent intentionally by compromised computers, the server hangs and no longer responds to any requests that comes-by. This network of compromised computers is called as BOTNETS. In simple terms, what happens is all computers and smart devices in the network are under control of hackers/attackers and the people who are using it aren’t aware that they have been hacked.
2014 proved to be a big year for the DDoS attackers as they wreaked disaster for various company websites globally. The attack on Sony PlayStation and Sony Entertainment Network which took place in August 2014 is still fresh in our minds. Moreover, the hackers also claimed responsibility for the attacks on Twitter and for tweeting about a bomb threat on a flight carrying the president of Sony’s online entertainment unit. But Sony was back online within 24 hours and assured people that no evidence of unauthorized access to their network or to personal information of users was found.
Popular DDoS Attack Methods and Tools –
Distributed Denial Method–
In this method, the communication lines are opened by hundreds of compromised computers. A hacker who has access to several computers can send the requests anytime to the server to bring it down. It is called distributed denial as there are numerous computers placed, being involved in the attack. The server at a certain point is unable to cater the requests and ultimately crashes down.
Usually, your computer opens a TCP line with the server and then the server responds and waits for you to complete the handshake. Handshake involves actions between your computer and server before transfer of actual data starts. When the attack takes place, the hacker opens TCP but refrains from completing the handshake – keeping the server waiting which leads to downtime.
UDP Method –
This is the fastest method of DDoS attack since it employs DNS (Domain Name Server) servers for beginning the attack. Normally, to resolve the URL issues, User Datagram Protocol (UDP) is used by your computer as those work in speed than the standard TCP packets. Hackers take the advantage of UDP packets’ weaknesses to create flood of messages to a server. Fake packets are created by hackers that seem to come from the targeted server. The query would be sent to the targeted server in the form of large amount of data. The availability of multiple DNS resolvers leads the hacker to target a server to bring down a site effortlessly. In this method also, the targeted server receives limitless queries/responses that are unable to handle.
Apart from these, there are many third party tools that act similar to a botnet if the hacker shortfalls of computers.
Let’s learn about how to protect your business portal from the DDoS attack –
One of the commonly used method for attacks is clogging your server bandwidth. You can prevent this by extending your bandwidth but it can prove to be costly. More bandwidth means investing more money in your host provider.
Ensure your anti-DDoS provider shares data with you. It may happen that the anti-DDoS providers keep the data secret like sometimes it won’t share botnet source addresses or other data that may help the attacker. When the attack begins, there must be immediate decision to be taken for blocking the IP addresses.
Using a distributed data movement method is also one of the best methods to prevent DDoS attack. Appoint different datacenters that respond to requests in slices instead of a single server. Today, it is easy to manage datacenters as those can be applied on cloud that leads to reduction of load and distributes it from across servers instead of a single server.
Server mirroring is the next method. A mirror server comprises of recent copy of the items on the main server. The word itself suggests that instead of using main server you can use mirror servers which will help traffic to get distributed thus, preventing the DDoS attack.
DDoS attacks have become a common buzzword for many enterprises with the increasing number of devices getting compromised. There is an overall impression created by such attacks that Anonymous is thrashing down not only the small but also the biggest players in the game without exemption from the attack. Whenever there is an attack they make a reliable headline and nothing stops them to show-up more or less continuously. They have proven that they are the biggest and toughest group on Internet that can’t be challenged by any one. But there is one thing that we can do, just take the right measures that will help prevent these attacks.