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Causes of DDoS Attacks And How to Deal With Them

Causes of DDoS Attacks And How to Deal With Them

The site is overloaded with requests and stopped responding, and the server load has risen to 100% and does not weaken for a second. This is exactly what the symptoms of a classic DDoS attack look like from the victim’s point of view. The general essence of such attacks is that the attacker deliberately sends a huge number of requests to the victim’s server, which the server cannot cope with and stops processing requests. This is a rather unpleasant event that negatively affects business performance. If you are responsible for ensuring cybersecurity, including against DDoS attacks, in accordance with the SOC 2 requirements checklist, this article is for you.

Reasons For DDoS Attacks

The reasons for attacks can range from personal animosity towards the company/individual that owns a website or web application to political motives. Let’s look at a few scenarios to illustrate the most common causes of attacks.

Dislike For a Person Or Organization

A dismissed employee can order a DDoS attack on the employer’s servers. A group of people who do not agree with the action or inaction of a large organization can cooperate and bring down its servers. Has your web application outperformed competitors in terms of functionality? This could be a good reason for revenge!

You can’t please everyone: even such a large government agency as the FBI, whose activities are aimed at countering organized crime, fell victim to DDoS in the late 1990s. A group of hackers from all over the country banded together and overloaded the FBI’s servers due to the threat of persecution of a number of prominent figures in the hacking community.

Political Or Moral Motives

In some ways, this motive is similar to the previous one; however, individuals and organizations pursuing a controversial policy from the point of view of hackers become the object of attack. So, in connection with the threat of demolition of the monument to the Liberator statue, Estonian hackers launched a massive attack on the servers of state institutions.

Mischief

Oddly enough, for some, the organization and conduct of a DDoS attack, albeit not too serious and dangerous, may turn out to be nothing more than entertainment. In today’s IT community, DDoS for the sake of DDoS is becoming almost a trend among novice hackers who want to get better acquainted with methods of protecting against this kind of attack.

Extortion And Blackmail

This is a full-fledged threat. Often, attackers contact potential victims through fake email addresses and offer to avoid server crashes for a certain amount of money. The victim of the attack is given 1-3 days to think, after which the attacker conducts the first attack. The attack continues either until the ransom is paid or until it is repelled by the combined efforts of the firewall and system administrators.

Unfair Competition

On Black Friday and other similar retail holidays, the risk of falling under a DDoS attack ordered by competitors is very high. In this case, no demands are made on the victims, and immediately after the sale expires, parasitic traffic disappears on its own. As a rule, there is no way to prove the involvement of a competing company in an attack.

Who Can Become a Victim?

If we take into account the number of attacks carried out for the purpose of entertainment, almost every site will face DDoS sooner or later.

However, let’s look at more serious and terrible attacks leading to significant damage:

  1. Increasingly, hackers are attacking IoT devices, which include cash registers, Smart Home systems, cameras, etc.;
  2. Banks and other financial institutions are always an attractive target for all hackers;
  3. Medical institutions, both private and public, are very popular with hackers.
  4. State-owned companies and large corporations are also often targeted by hackers. The motives can be very diverse: from the banal desire to harm a large, rich company to hatred of its actions or specific individuals.

How to Recognize a DDoS Attack On a Server

Symptoms of an attack may not always be so obvious. For example, if different components of a web application (for example, a landing page, a payment gateway, and the main logic module) are located on different servers, only one of them can be attacked – and not always the most noticeable one.

In general, the following atypical manifestations can be symptoms of a DDoS attack:

  1. Unexpected freezes or delays in the operation of the software on the server (including sudden termination of sessions or slowdown in typical requests).
  2. The load on the CPU, RAM, or disk of the server that is significantly higher than average can also signal an attack (especially if there are no external reasons for increasing the organic load.
  3. A sharp increase in the number of requests for open ports.
  4. The appearance of a large number of requests of the same type in the server logs may be a manifestation of DDoS, especially if these requests are not typical for a typical audience of a service or web application.

How to Prevent or Stop a DDoS Attack

The ability to repel DDoS attacks is an important element of modern cyber defense, especially if a company intends to meet SOC 2 requirements checklist. One of the most effective ways to combat DDoS attacks is considered to be filtering suspicious activity at the level of a communication provider or a hosting provider. Filtering can be carried out both programmatically, using router software, and by passing traffic through hardware firewalls.

However, this is not enough to fully protect against attacks of any level. First of all, administrators of servers and web applications should pay attention to the architectural features of their solutions, fix critical errors and vulnerabilities, and conduct regular web application testing to identify and address any potential security risks. Below is a list of basic protection measures.

At the stage of developing and testing a product, it is necessary to carefully work out the logic of its work, find bottlenecks, and code sections that consume unreasonably many resources, and eliminate possible memory leaks.

Regularly update software and network services (at a minimum, install security updates that prevent hackers from accessing vulnerabilities in previous versions) and regularly update the application code. In an ideal situation, it is desirable to have 3 base servers: productive, standby (for creating backups), and test (for testing and running new functionality).

Special attention should be paid to access rights to network services and the organization of several levels of access to services on the server and archived versions of the application.

Conclusion

DDoS protection is critical for any organization or business that depends on the availability of its online services and web resources. If you are following the SOC 2 requirements checklist in preparation for certification and need quality support, we recommend that you contact UnderDefense.

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