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DDoS Attack: Definition, Types and How to Prevent It

Last updated: Oct 10, 2023

DDoS Attack: Definition, Types and How to Prevent It
Cover Image: Illustration of a DDoS Attack

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DDoS attack stands for Distributed Denial of Service. It is one type of cyber threat that can shake the digital security of your website instantly.

In this rapidly evolving digital era, internet connectivity has become the heart of nearly every aspect of life.

While offering significant benefits, the advantages of global connectivity in this era also pose the potential for serious risks, one of which is the DDoS attack.

But, do you know what is DDoS attack and what kind of dangers it can cause? Read the following discussion to discover more about this digital threat. 

What is DDoS Attack?

Ilustrasi DDoS Sebagai Jenis Cyber Attack
Figure 1: Ilustrasi DDoS Sebagai Jenis Cyber Attack

DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service, a prevalent cyber threat in the realm of computers and networks. 

A DDoS attack is a form of cyber assault that disrupts a server by inundating it with simultaneous and sustained waves of fake traffic.

DDoS attacks involve multiple host computers working in concert to inundate a target computer, thereby restricting or entirely halting all access to it.

Within the realm of computers and networks, DDoS are relatively common and are frequently executed by hackers.

In essence, the concept behind a DDoS is quite straightforward. The attacker generally overloads the server by imposing an excessive load on it, rendering it incapable of accepting additional connections from other users.

Hence, one of the significant consequences of DDoS attacks is the disruption they cause, which may manifest as server downtime or necessitate system maintenance.


How Does A DDoS Work?

Considering the increasingly robust computer connectivity these days, it's essential to enhance your security by learning how to prevent DDoS attacks.

However, before delving into that, it's important to understand how DDoS operates and attacks your cyber security system. Here's a more detailed discussion.

Based on how it works, DDoS can be divided into 3 categories, such as:

  • Request Flooding: This technique involves sending a large number of requests to the target server or network simultaneously. As a result, the server becomes busy handling fake requests, rendering it unable to serve legitimate users.
  • Traffic Flooding: This technique involves sending data or traffic to the target server or network. By inundating the target with invalid data, the server becomes overwhelmed and unable to serve legitimate users.
  • Configuration Alteration and Damage: Although categorized as a type of Denial of Service, this technique is rarely used because it involves efforts to change system configurations or damage components and servers at a deeper level.


Types of DDoS Attacks

As in classifying DDoS according to the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model, DDoS can occur at three distinct layers: the application, protocol, and volumetric layer.

These layers serve as a reflection of the intricate nature of DDoS attacks, underscoring their significance as formidable threats within the digital network environment. Here’s a more detailed explanation:

1. Application Attacks

This type of DDoS is known for exploiting Layer 7 of the OSI model. These attacks target the server layer responsible for responding to and handling HTTP requests and loading web pages. The goal of this attack category is to drain all the resources possessed by the target.

When only a single request is serviced, the server may function smoothly. However, problems are likely to arise when the server has to handle a large number of requests simultaneously, especially if these requests involve database query execution.

2. Protocol Attacks

Protocol Attacks DDoS generally target security vulnerabilities at layers 3 and 4 within the network.

These attacks leverage the TCP protocol by sending numerous SYN packets with fake IP addresses.

As a result, with every connection initiated, the server responds by sending SYN-ACK signals and waits for the connection to complete. 

However, in this type of attack, the connection would never completes. Consequently, the server keeps waiting continuously, causing an undue workload on the server in question.

Protocol Attacks typically force network devices and server resources, such as load balancers and firewalls, to exceed their initial capacities.

3. Volumetric Attacks

In general, a Volumetric DDoS is the most frequently encountered type among others. This type of DDoS attack aims to flood the entire server bandwidth between the target and the internet network with a relatively large volume of traffic.


2 DDoS Attack Techniques

It's important to note that DDoS employs specific yet effective techniques for its attacks. Let's explore the two main techniques used in DDoS in the following explanation.

1. Botnet DDoS

One common method used in DDoS is the utilization of a botnet. This technique involves a group of bots being released simultaneously to execute the attack.

These bots are embedded within malware, which is then distributed to computers connected to the internet. The number of infected computers can range from tens to millions, depending on the extent of malware distribution.

This collection of compromised computers is referred to as a botnet, with each infected computer known as a "zombie computer."

With just one command, a botnet can launch a DDoS on a target computer simultaneously, making it challenging to halt.

2. Virus

DDoS attacks can also be carried out with the assistance of viruses. In this scenario, the attacker disseminates the virus through various internet-connected sites.

One of the objectives is to activate bots through scripts running on the operating system. When a computer becomes infected with a DDoS virus, the virus actively launches DDoS on pre-determined servers or IP addresses.


Signs That Your Website is Infected with DDoS

Illustration of DDoS Infecting a Website
Figure 2: Illustration of DDoS Infecting a Website

DDoS is a dangerous attack. Hence, it's crucial to prevent it as early as possible. To stay vigilant, pay attention to the following signs that your website may be infected with DDoS:

  • Sudden and continuous drastic increases in bandwidth during an attack. If your VPS is the target, bandwidth consumption can reach its limit, rendering the VPS inaccessible.
  • Increased CPU load leading to server performance degradation, causing the website or services to become inaccessible.
  • Receipt of suspicious alerts on your server. If you receive such notifications, you should promptly identify a DDoS or other cyber threats
  • HTTP errors where users may frequently encounter error messages like "502 Bad Gateway" or "504 Gateway Timeout." These can be signs that the server is struggling to handle requests properly due to DDoS.


How to Prevent DDoS Effectively 

Now that you understand what is DDoS, you certainly wouldn't want this attack to disrupt the smooth operation of your computer and network, would you? Thus, make sure to take note of and follow each of the steps below without exception!

1. Maximize Server Resource Capacity

The first step in countering DDoS is to ensure that your server has enough capacity to handle the incoming traffic load during an attack. Some steps you can take include:

  • Expanding bandwidth
  • Increasing CPU and memory capacity
  • Using a load balancer
  • Ensuring that your server's hardware and software are in optimal condition.

2. Regularly Monitor The Traffic

Another crucial step is to periodically monitor traffic. As part of your efforts to combat DDoS attacks, you need to detect anomalies or suspicious traffic increases as early as possible.

In this regard, you can use software to monitor the network, identify unusual patterns, and respond quickly to the attack.

3. Utilize DDoS Protection Services

One of the most effective measures in dealing with DDoS attacks is to invest in protection services provided by leading cybersecurity providers.

These protection services work by automatically detecting DDoS attacks and redirecting suspicious traffic away from your network to keep your resources safe.

4. Use Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)

DDoS Attacks can be mitigated by using Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). In this scenario, a CDN accesses content from servers in various geographic regions. 

This step helps mitigate the impact of DDoS attacks by distributing traffic to multiple different servers, keeping your main server safe from harmful attacks.

5. Restrict IP Access

Another way to prevent DDoS attacks is to configure your firewall to limit access to your IP pages to only valid and officially configured addresses.

With this step, you can protect your server from DDoS attacks originating from unwanted sources and reduce the potential for future attacks.

6. Stop Using Open Connection Protocols

DDoS are more likely to attack you when you use open connection protocols like UDP (User Datagram Protocol).

Therefore, consider switching to more secure connections like TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). UDP is often more vulnerable to DDoS attacks due to its lack of strict connections.

7. Use a Firewall

You need to enable a robust firewall to identify and block suspicious traffic as quickly as possible.

Firewalls can help filter traffic coming from botnets and infected devices that may be used by attackers.

Although categorized as a dangerous type of attack, DDoS can still be managed by following the series of tips above.

As an additional safeguard, ensure that you continuously learn various effective steps to enhance network security and avoid detrimental consequences.

8. Report the Attack

Report the DDoS attack to your internet service provider and authorities. This step is essential in helping you identify the culprits and prevent additional attacks in the future.

That was the complete explanation of what is DDoS Attack, how it works, the techniques involved, and how to counter or prevent it.

DDoS attacks can be carried out for various motivations, such as tarnishing the reputation of organizations or companies by rendering their services inaccessible to legitimate users.

Therefore, it is crucial for you to continually maximize the security and visibility of your website as a whole.

To support the overall success of your website, we offer SEO Services by cmlabs that encompass complete website maintenance along with the best SEO strategies to ensure your website maintains a high ranking in search engines like Google.

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