If you have heard of DDOS attacks and how dangerous they can be for a website owner, but are still unsure exactly what they are, then this blog post will hopefully shine a light on all of this for you.
If you’re wondering what a DDOS attack is, and if you even need to worry about one, you’re not alone. A dangerously high percentage of people are completely unaware of the danger it poses to their websites. You may have heard about DDOS attacks in the news, but these reports mainly focus on the larger website attacks. And because of this fact, most people mistakenly think that because they are running a website on a much smaller scale, that no-one would want to DDOS attack them.
DDOS or Distributed Denial of Service attacks basically operate by overloading your web host. They do this by sending huge amounts of “traffic” to your website. This is not genuine traffic though. It is traffic in the form of bots, which are software applications that run automated tasks over the internet. When this kind of attack happens, no-one can access your website. And this inconvenience can last from a few hours to a few days, costing website owners a lot in lost business.
The fact that these attacks are “distributed” makes them much easier to implement, and more difficult to stop. Distributed means that the attack doesn’t come from one location, but many. A DDOS attack originates from multiple different computers and IP addresses that are all coordinated.
An easy way to think about it is by comparing it to a protest outside a store. Just like the protest’s objective can be to simply stop anyone going inside. In real life this is easily achieved by organizing a small group of activists to stand in front of the entrance, thereby to preventing customers and even workers from getting inside. But online, with a DDOS attack, it’s like having a few thousand people showing up at your protest, and forming an unbreakable barrier in front of the entrance. Both scenarios have the same result, preventing any customers from getting in. And potentially costing you a lot of money in lost sales. DDOS attacks are clearly much harder to prevent, are way more effective, and can be really tough to stop once they have begun.
Why Would Someone Want To Target My Website With A DDOS Attack?
Well there are quite a few motivations for why someone would want to target you, things like:
Extortion happens when a criminal threatens to DDOS attack you as the website owner unless you pay them. The amount that they can demand from you usually ranges from a few hundred dollars all the way up to the hundreds of thousands, depending on how much money you could potentially lose when your website goes offline. And these kind of attacks are becoming more popular as people find out just how easy and cheap they are to pull off. It doesn’t take someone with years of experience in hacking, almost anyone with a little experience using computers and the internet can run a DDOS attack. Just Google how and you will see the thousands of websites that guide you step by through the process.
Revenge is another big motivating factor in a lot of these attacks, usually carried out by disgruntled employees, annoyed customers or simply a jealous business that’s in competition with you.
There is another form of hacking known as hacktivism. This is when hackers will attack a website for political reasons, and in their minds DDOS is actually a valid and effective way to protest…
Hacking Just For The Sake Of Hacking
In many cases DDOS attacks are motivated strictly by a desire to hack, and these cases can be some of the hardest to anticipate. They aren’t because of any other reason than an attacker wanting to hack something.
How Do I Tell If I’m At Risk?
Well to put it plainly, it doesn’t matter how big or small your website is, DDOS attacks can and do happen to all kinds, regardless of their size. Basically there is a list of reasons why you should worry about your site being taken offline by one:
- People with very little computer skills can launch one
- They are one of the easiest attacks to implement
- And they are one of the cheapest
- There are motivations behind an attack that will apply to any kind of website
You really don’t have to do or say anything on your website that would cause a hacker to want to go against you. And you might think that you are too small to warrant an attack. Sure, you can always try to prevent one by censoring yourself and eliminating anything that might potentially lead to a hacktivist attack, but you can’t avoid all of the other motivations. Every website can fall victim to extortion, or end up with an angry customer, or ex-employee…
Rather be safe than sorry.