Like everything that evolves and advances through time, cyber crimes have become more technical and complicated in the 21st century than ever before. Nowadays, cyber crimes are no longer associated with the hacking of electronic data only.
They also involve attacking systems, websites, and networks and leaving them inoperative without stealing data. This malicious practice is known as DoS and DDoS attacks in the field of cyber crimes. Both attacks cause severe damage to the targeted system and are backed by different evil goals.
Want to know more about DoS and DDoS? Read till the end to learn the reasons, types, warning signs, and prevention tips for DoS vs. DDoS cyber attacks. The article also compiles these two attacks’ differences to understand them thoroughly. But before anything, let’s start with a little introduction to DoS vs. DDoS attacks.
What Is DoS?
DoS also referred to as Denial-of-Service, is a cyber attack intended to make a network or system inaccessible. The attacker directs massive traffic to a server, network, system, device, or website through TCP and UDP packets. As a result, the targeted system becomes unavailable for its users.
This abnormal traffic can be stopped through a variety of techniques. Until then, the system remains inactive.
What Is DDoS?
DDoS stands for Distributed Denial-of-Service, a more complex form of DoS. It also targets a network, device, system, or website to steal and control its accessibility with the help of multiple infected systems.
DDoS criminals have a network of thousands or millions of computers, devices, and systems, each exposed to malware and interconnected via the internet. These infected sources are called zombies, zombie machines, and bots. The attacker enjoys full remote access to bots and employs them to flood the targeted resource with fake connection requests.
When a website receives congested traffic, it becomes inefficient to load the web pages and respond to the traffic requests. In many cases, the criminals leave a fake redirecting URL, which adds to the security threat.
DoS Vs. DDoS: What Makes Them Different?
Both DoS and DDoS are cyber attacks initiated to flood a system or network with bogus traffic, causing it to crash or go inaccessible. Although both have similar goals, they have differences between them, such as:
Number Of Machines Used
Cyber attackers need only one computer to carry out a successful DoS attack. However, DDoS attacks require multiple computers, bots, or zombies linked with each other through an internet connection. All the zombie devices are under the attacker’s control sitting far and wide.
Location Of Machines
Since DoS attacks can be executed using a single computer, floods of data packets are sent from a single location in this type of attack. In contrast, a DDoS attack occurs when multiple systems at different locations send disruptive traffic to the target network. This is because the latter attack uses multiple locations to achieve the goal, making it very hard to identify its origin and location.
Effect Of Result
The data packets launched from millions of DDoS bots create more effective and complicated traffic. Because DDoS attacks pose a more serious threat to a network, attackers opt for this malicious technique to target extensive businesses and organizations.
However, the result of the DoS attack is less effective due to the low volume of traffic produced by a single computer. It can serve the intended purpose of targeting a small-scale network.
A large network of bots increases the traffic volume and speed, causing the attack to complete faster. On the other hand, DoS may take a little longer to hit the target. For this reason, a DDoS attack is nearly impossible to prevent beforehand.
Common Reasons Behind DoS And DDoS Attacks
DoS and DDoS attacks can effectively destroy a large, fully functional system. These types of cyber threats are launched to achieve several malicious goals, which are as follows:
To Degrade The Rival
The top competitors belonging to any business group always face a security threat. Especially those organizations and businesses that depend more on online existence or network connectivity are at a high risk of such attacks. To make them incur a loss, their rivals steer their audience or customers towards their services.
Attackers launch DDoS attacks on large commercial networks to deplete their high-profile protection barriers. By sending malicious traffic to their competitors’ networks, the attackers stop public access to the website or specific web pages.
Hence, when customers can not find the desired services from a company/brand, they search for alternatives other companies offer, making the attackers successful in their job.
To Demand Ransom
Many blackmailers generate millions of requests to confuse the network of large firms and organizations and seize unauthorized access to their websites. Afterward, they contact the owners of the victim network and demand hefty costs to retain the health of their system.
The organization suffers a huge loss of customers due to the unavailability of online services. Therefore, they must pay the demanded ransom to keep the website operational.
To Take Revenge
In some cases, DoS attacks occur for revenge purposes. Usually, it happens when a company takes unjust or strict action against an employee(s).
The employee gets back at the company with a more aggressive response and considers attacking their network with abnormal traffic.
To Distract The Attention
When cybercriminals plan to launch an extremely dangerous cyber attack on a company, they carry out short-term attacks, such as DoS, to divert the attention of rivals. While the cyber experts devise solutions to reduce the traffic, the criminals get an opportunity to hit the company with a more serious security threat.
To Practice Hacktivism
Some political reasons also follow DoS and DDoS attacks. The government and political parties go for DoS and DDoS attacks to interrupt the online availability of each other. This way, the political parties demotivate the agendas and influence the freedom of speech of their rivals.
Types Of DoS And DDoS Attacks
Depending on the attacking method and use of technology, DoS and DDoS have some subtypes as well. Some of them include:
Teardrop DoS attack involves fragmented packets of data with altered TCP/IP codes directed to the targeted network. Since the codes are corrupted, the fragments continue to overlap, leaving the victim network unable to process them. Due to these fragments, teardrop attacks are also known as fragmentation attacks.
Buffer Overflow Attack
Cybercriminals also target servers with buffer overflow attacks, a type of DoS attack. When attackers send an exceptionally high traffic volume to a system beyond its capacity, it develops a bug known as buffer overflow. As a result, the system often crashes or becomes unresponsive.
Volumetric attacks are DDoS attacks carried out by targeting the network’s bandwidth and depleting it with a high volume of bogus data requests. The technique is called a UDP flood attack if the data consists of UDP (User Datagram Protocol) packets of wrong addresses.
Another category of volumetric attacks includes ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) flood or ping flood attack that uses errors to overwhelm a network.
The flow of data transfer protocols is attacked in this type of DDoS attack. The network traffic comprising SYN packets prevents establishing a TCP/IP connection. Resultantly, the request remains unprocessed, and the web server appears inactive. These attacks are also the same as TCP state-exhaustion attacks.
Application Layer Attack
This DDoS attack starts by consuming the maximum web resources of an application, making it incapable of responding to legitimate users. HTTP flood and Slowloris attack are examples of application layer attacks.
DoS And DDoS Attack Signs You Need To Watch Out For
When a network is at risk of a DoS attack or DDoS attack, it shows some symptoms to allow you to act promptly. So, always be cautious during network monitoring and take the following warning signs seriously.
- Slow network connection
- Spam emails
- Error messages appear upon opening web pages
Tips To Protect Your Website Against DoS And DDoS Attacks
DoS and DDoS attacks occur suddenly and do not give you a chance to save your network from their negative consequences. Besides being attentive to all warning signs, you can follow some steps to reduce the chances of these attacks.
Maintain Your Site Regularly
Keeping your website up-to-date is essential to ensure a healthy flow of network and customer satisfaction and to prevent cybersecurity threats. So, make sure your site undergoes a routine updating process.
Make Authentication Process Compulsory
Bots can attack a website because there is no verification process to check whether the traffic is genuine. Therefore, conducting a few authentication steps is safe before providing access to your content or services.
Use Vulnerability Testing Tools
You should be well aware of your website’s health and security level. You can use website weakness assessment software to deeply inspect your website and show you all the weak spots and security risks. With such tools, you can enhance your website’s security, making it more protected before incurring service attacks.
Use Network Security Software
Many website protection tools have been designed to detect unusual data traffic and restrict it from invading further. These tools work by identifying the origin address of the server or network sending access requests. However, these tools do not guarantee 100% protection but ensure prevention against a minor service attack.
Be Equipped With A Team Of Experts
Make a team of trained individuals who have extensive knowledge of modern cybersecurity tools and are proficient at using them. Such experts will make sure to set up protection barriers for your website.
You can also arrange training programs to educate the employees about these attacks’ technical requirements and complications. Also, make them learn about the latest software tools to prevent and lift DoS and DDoS attacks.
In case a DDoS attack occurs, they will manage it efficiently. While meeting the technical requirements, they will manage to stay in touch with stakeholders, clients, and the public to mitigate the loss.
DoS cyber attacks employ a computer to send flooded spoof packets to a network supposed to be damaged. Likewise, Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks feature a network of millions of computers to shut down a network.
While both attacks can disrupt a site’s functioning, they can be prevented in the ways mentioned above. We hope you found this article helpful in understanding these cyber threats.