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Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are a growing concern for businesses and consumers alike. These attacks are on the rise along with all forms of cyber-attack. According to Kapersky, “43% of businesses experienced data loss in the past year due to a cyber-security incident.”

While DDoS attacks threaten the reputation and the bottom line for businesses, they also threaten consumers. In many cases a DDoS attack is launched as a decoy to hide the real intentions of the hacker – to steal corporate intellectual property and financial data, as well as consumer data. DDoS attacks have been a factor in some of the largest data breaches. Dave Larson of Infosecurity Magazine reports that “in a large proportion of data breaches reported over the last few years, DDoS attacks have been occurring simultaneously, as a component of a wider strategy; meaning hackers are utilizing this technique in a significant way.”

At its core a DDoS attack uses hundreds and sometimes thousands of computers to flood the business website with large volume of internet traffic to overwhelm the host server. When this happens the website often stops functioning for a period of time. Sometimes hackers will continue to randomly attack a website until the business pays a ransom – much like ransomware that targets individuals.

There are three major types of DDoS attacks available to a hacker.

  • Volumetric: Most common. Sends a large amount of internet traffic to the host server simultaneously.
  • Amplification: Sends a high volume of traffic using large packets of data. Requires fewer “zombie” or compromised computers to accomplish the same task as a volumetric DDoS attack.
  • Resource Depletion: Makes multiple requests through multiple ports or entry points into the targeted server until its capacity is exceeded.

To find out more about these types of DDoS attacks, go to Defending Your Network against DDoS Attacks.

There are a number of hardware and software tools to help defend against such attacks, but the primary methods of defense are knowledge, detection, and training.

  1. Businesses should analyze how their networks and the systems attached to that network interact with the internet to uncover and fix vulnerabilities before they are exploited by hackers.
  2. Train IT employees to recognize the hallmarks of a DDoS and other cyber-attacks, so they can react quickly.
  3. Train all employees to recognize and immediately report any unusual activity on any system connected to the internet.
  4. Train all employees to question unusual emails or texts requesting W-2’s, other personnel data, or corporate financial information.
  5. Develop specific rules for employees regarding usage of social media and the types of corporate information that can be shared online. A recent study has shown that social engineering is a precursor to 66% of cyber-attacks. Source: 7 Ways to Make Yourself Hack-Proof.

For more information on Decoy DDoS attacks, check out DDoS attacks: a perfect smoke screen for APTs and silent data breaches.

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