Here, in the second part of the series, ‘Growing Cybersecurity Threats,’ we are going to talk about Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.
What Is a Denial of Service Attack?
A denial of service (DoS) attack is a type of attack that makes a machine or network or website shut down, making it inaccessible to users. This is done by flooding the target with traffic or triggering a large number of access requests immediately, creating a burden to the victim’s server. In either of the cases, the intention of the DoS attack is to leave the service or website inaccessible to authentic users, thereby forcing it to shut down operations, either temporarily or permanently.
How DDoS Differs From DoS Attack
The denial of service (DoS) attack takes place when a system is flooded maliciously with a huge amount of traffic or information, targeting it to the extent that it crashes or becomes inaccessible to users. The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is similar to DoS attacks and are increasingly common these days. The primary difference between the two is that the traffic targeting the server originates from many sources rather than just one. By triggering the attack from multiple sources, the damage increases and makes it difficult to shut down. It is also difficult to identify the attacker behind DDoS attack.
Types of DoS Attacks
DoS attacks typically fall into two categories:
- Buffer overflow attacks
In this type of DoS attack, a memory buffer overflow gets a machine to consume all available memory, hard disk space, as well as CPU time. This is the most common forms of DoS attacks. This would result in sluggish behavior, damaging server behavior, or system crashes resulting in denial-of-service.
- Flood attacks
To perform a flood attack, a malicious actor would have more bandwidth than the one targeted. A malicious actor would oversaturate the capacity of the targeted server with an overwhelming number of spoofed packets. Another way of this attack is to connect to a server until all available ports are saturated and no port is available for a legitimate user to connect.
History Of DoS Attacks
With past experiences, it is observed that DoS attacks exploited security vulnerabilities that were present in network, hardware, or software.
Few historic DoS attacks are –
Ping flood – In this denial of service attack, the target is overwhelmed with ICMP (ping) packets than it can respond efficiently. This attack can also be converted into a DDoS attack.
Smurf attack – The malicious actor utilizes a broadcast address of the vulnerable network to flood the targeted IP address. This is done by sending spoofed packets to a previously exploited DoS attack.
Ping of Death – Similar to a ping flood attack, the ping of death attack sends a malformed packet to a targeted machine which will result in damaging behavior like system crashes.
How to Identify a DoS Attack?
Experiencing a DoS attack might feel like experiencing heavy bandwidth connection or network connectivity errors, which makes them difficult to identify. Peculiar indications of a DoS attack include:
- Not being able to load a website or a particular web application or page.
- Slow network performance resulting in a long time to load files or websites.
- A sudden loss of connectivity throughout the network across all devices.
Methods To Prevent DoS Attacks
When your business is online, then you probably rely on your website performance and are prone to a DoS attack. To handle the consequences, here are a few preventive methods.
- Get tools to recognize an attack
There are anti-DoS services that can help you defend against the attack. These tools help you recognize a DoS attack and authentic spikes in network traffic.
- Contact network service provider
Notify your internet service provider when you observe any malicious activity to determine if the traffic can be rerouted. Other solutions could be having a spare ISP or dispersing the massive DoS traffic among a network of servers. This makes the attack ineffective.
- Configure routers and firewalls
Routers and firewalls can be configured to reject false traffic. However, it is important that the routers and firewalls are updated with the latest security patches.
- Integrate front-end hardware in the network
A front-end application hardware can classify the data as regular or spam as soon as they intrude the system. On integration, it can help to analyze the data packet as well as block threatening data.
- Investigate black hole routing
A black hole routing from an internet service provider can direct excessive traffic into what is called the black hole. This can prevent the website or application from crashing. The drawback of this method is that both organic and non-organic traffic is rerouted to the same hole.
DoS and DDoS attacks are growing significantly resulting in huge losses. When it comes to online security, taking simple precautions makes a big difference. A dedicated security professional can be assigned to continuously monitor the network traffic and initiate spontaneous action when sniffing malicious action online. In our next part of this series, we shall be talking about another prevalent cybersecurity threat – SQL Injection. Stay tuned!
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