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Bots: What Is A DDoS Attack?

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Unfortunately, Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are common all over the internet. Even with how common they are, most people don’t know what actually constitutes a DDoS attack.

That mentioned, what is a DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service attack, how does it work, and how does it affect the intended target and its users? Keep reading and we’ll explain!

Before we start explaining a DDoS, it helps to understand Denial of Service (DoS) first. Denial of Service is a very general issue. To explain it simply, a website experiences DoS issues when it is no longer able to service its regular users. When too many people head to Twitter due to whatever reason, the “over capacity” whale pops up, indicating that the website has reached and passed maximum capacity. So, essentially, in this instance, Twitter is experiencing a DoS.

Most of the time, these issues happen without malicious intent. For example, a large website links to a small website, which isn’t built for the same level of traffic (the Digg/Slashdot effect). Thus, the small site can’t handle the influx of traffic and becomes unresponsive.

Due to this, adding the word “attack”, a Denial of Service Attack indicates malicious intent. The attacker makes a conscious effort trying to create DoS issues. The methods of doing this can vary greatly and a “DoS attack” is only referring to the expected result of the attack, not the way it is being executed. By using up the system’s resources, it can cause the system to become unavailable to its regular users, and in extreme cases, even crashing the system and taking it down entirely.

Now that you have an understanding of DoS, we can explain DDoS!

The difference between Distributed Denial of Service attacks and regular Denial of Service attacks is the key word, “Distributed”. A DoS attack is carried out by a single attacker using a single system, whereas a Distributed attack is carried out across multiple systems that are executing the attack.

A Distributed Denial of Service attack requires multiple systems to carry out the attack. It doesn’t actually require multiple attackers. Commonly, large DDoS attacks are not executed through the attacker’s own computer, but through a large number of infected systems. Attackers can abuse a number of vulnerabilities to gain control over a large amount of systems. The attacker then uses these compromised computers/servers to mount an attack against its target.

The website targeted by the DDoS attack is usually described as the only victim. But this isn’t entirely accurate. Users with infected systems that are part of the attacking systems are similarly affected. Not only are their computers being used in illicit attacks, their computer’s and Internet connection’s resources are consumed by the attack that is being launched.

There are a wide variety of methods that can be used to execute these attacks but, in the end, DDoS attacks are have a singular purpose, keeping authentic users from using the target system.

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