If you have ever played any of Blizzard Entertainment’s online games like World of Warcraft, you might be aware of its constant string of issues with DDoS attacks- the most recent happening this month. Hackers brought down the gaming giant’s battle servers, rendering their games unplayable and drawing scrutiny from its millions of users.
After the damage had been done, and the internet buzz was at its highest, a tweet emerged from the depths by a hacking group that calls themselves “PoodleCorp”:
It appeared that they launched an attack solely for the retweets. Once their quota was satisfied the assault was lifted, leaving the angry masses to get back to their gaming.
In a nutshell, a DDos attack, or a Distributed Denial of Service, happens when an attacker attempts to overload a service to make it unavailable, just like in the case with Blizzard. While this particular situation was harmless with minor inconveniences for Blizzard’s users, DDoS attacks are a real threat, and can be catastrophic.
More than 2000 attacks are recorded daily and over a third of website downtime reports are from DDOS attacks.
What problems can arise from a DDOS attack?
- Data Loss – Systems without data backups could lose it.
- Heavy Costs – Fixing network issues can run a pretty penny.
- Camouflage – Your real attacks get swamped with false information making it difficult to assess a legitimate threat.
- Service Interruptions – There is nothing more frustrating for your users when they can’t log on to your website. A minor headache for them and for you, but for a major network like the Emergency Networking System, a service interruption could be catastrophic and the difference between life and death.
- Loss of Revenue – No site access means no purchases, which equal losses.
The problem with DDoS is that it’s easier than ever for someone to start such an attack, and anyone with a computer can launch one for a minimal cost. Only one hacker needs control of a few computers by installing malware that connects to other computers they need to run the DDoS. They call this a Botnet.
From here, the hacker can overload any website they want and mess up your whole day, or at least a few hours while you try and sort it out.
What can you do about DDoS?
- Identify An Attack Early – Understanding when you’re under attack will make it easier to combat with the right people. Implementing the best practices for network security and infrastructure is a good idea too.
- Beef Up Your Bandwidth – This is generally a good idea for any company, overcompensating your bandwidth to help deal with a sudden and random outpouring of website visits, and while this won’t stop a DDoS, it will buy you time and tip off an incoming attack.
- Have a Plan – Having a DDoS plan in place is crucial. Have a contact person for your hosting provider so you can call them immediately upon suspecting an attack. Speak to a company that specializes in Network security, and let them know when you suspect an attack too.“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is relevant here.
While a DDoS can happen to anyone, being prepared can mean the difference between a minor inconvenience or a major expense.
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