What is a DDoS attack and what are the consequences?

Published on: January 31, 2018
Author: Bas Greevink

What is a DDoS attack and what are the consequences?

A Distributed Denial of Service, or in short, a DDoS are attacks that create an overflow of traffic on your online platform. As a result, the attacked platform can be (temporarily) unavailable. DDoS attacks are initiated from various locations around the world and can be started very easily. The chance of being caught for cyber criminals is small, which makes it tempating to perform such attacks. 

Why do people perform DDoS attacks?

Attacks are started from different angles: for example, a conflict situation, political sensitivity or to show the vulnerability of a website.

DDoS attacks have evolved into three different stages:

  1. In the beginning, DDoS attackers were often sympathizers who had jointly coordinated attacks or built botnets with hacked computers.
  2. In 2013, the attacks became almost 10 times bigger, because not only computers were used, but also hacked servers. A known example is the hacker group al-Oassam Cyber Fighter (also known as BroBot)
  3. In 2016 the Mirai botnet used hundreds of thousands of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This enabled the botnet to perform attacks with a very high bandwidth. Many IoT devices were 'unprotected' at the time, such as security cameras. The threat of the attacks increased in 2016. This was one of the biggest reasons to invest more in the protection of online platforms. 

The risks of a DDoS attack

But what are the risks of such an attack nowadays, and what does it exactly mean? When a DDoS attack is executed, it is possible that your online platform is unreachable. So, you must ask yourself what the consequences are, think for example of:

  • An unreachable online platform;
  • Loss of confidential data;
  • Loss of productivity, for example an online portal;
  • Turnover decline, if it concerns a web shop;
  • Reputation damage of a brand.

Good to know: the most common attacks are not intended to harm a specific company. Most attacks occur after discovering a vulnerability. Scanners of cyber criminals use automated bots and websites that randomly search websites and are constantly looking for vulnerabilities.

Fact: 86% of websites and web applications have at least one vulnerability. The chance of a DDoS attack on your online platform is considerable.

Only 2% of organizations report that their web applications have not been compromised in the past 12 months, 89% said they did. (Source: The Cost of Web Application Attacks, Ponemon Institute, 2015.)

What to do?

It is important to take the right technical measures to protect your digital platform against attacks. Invest in a good Web Application Firewall (WAF). We have extensive experience with protecting online platforms, in collaboration with Akamai. Learn more about this topic? Check our dedicated Performance Cloud website or contact our consultant Hosting & Security Bas Greevink.