All DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks follow the same basic strategy. This is to flood targets with traffic from multiple sources. Likewise, they all have the same basic aim. This is to overwhelm the target and hence prevent it from being accessed by legitimate users. There are, however, many different variations on how this can be achieved. Staying on top of current DDoS definitions is, therefore, crucial to mitigating the risks they pose.
The basic principle behind DDoS attacks has been known for decades. In the beginning, the threat was known simply as DoS (Denial of Service). This was because, at that time, usually only one machine was involved in the attack.
Since then, however, DoS has become DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service). The fact that attacks now routinely involve multiple devices increases the options for attackers. This has led to a significant increase in DDoS definitions. Here is a simple guide to the main DDoS definitions currently in use.
UDP flood attacks involve sending a large number of User Datagram Protocol (UDP) packets to the target server, overwhelming it and causing it to crash or become unavailable.
This type of attack can be particularly effective because UDP does not require a connection to be established before sending data, allowing attackers to easily generate a large volume of traffic with relatively few resources.
In addition, UDP flood attacks can be difficult to mitigate because the packets can be easily spoofed, making it difficult to identify the source of the attack.
TCP SYN flood attacks involve an attacker sending a large number of TCP SYN requests to a target server with a spoofed IP address. The server will then respond with SYN/ACK packets to the spoofed IP addresses, which do not complete the handshake.
This process ties up server resources, causing the server to become unavailable or crash. TCP SYN flood attacks can be challenging to mitigate as the traffic appears legitimate to the server, making it difficult to distinguish between legitimate and malicious traffic.
HTTP flood attacks target web applications by sending a large number of HTTP requests. These requests are specifically designed to consume resources such as CPU, memory, and disk space, causing the web application to become unavailable or crash.
Attackers can use various techniques to generate HTTP flood attacks, including using botnets or infected devices. HTTP flood attacks can be particularly damaging to businesses that rely heavily on web applications, such as e-commerce websites.
DNS amplification attacks are a type of DDoS attack that can generate a large volume of traffic directed toward the target network or system. In a DNS amplification attack, the attacker sends a small number of DNS queries to publicly available DNS servers, using a spoofed IP address that is the same as the victim’s IP address. The DNS servers then respond to the victim’s IP address with much larger DNS responses, amplifying the traffic toward the victim.
This type of attack can be very effective because the DNS response packets are typically much larger than the DNS query packets, which results in a significant amplification factor. A single DNS query can generate up to 50 times more traffic toward the victim, making it easy for attackers to overwhelm the victim’s network or system.
Smurf attacks are a type of DDoS attack that exploits the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) to flood a victim’s network with traffic. The attacker sends ICMP requests to a network’s broadcast address using a spoofed source address of the victim. When the network’s routers receive the ICMP requests, they respond to the victim’s IP address with a flood of ICMP replies, overwhelming the victim’s network and causing it to become unavailable.
Smurf attacks are effective because they allow attackers to amplify their traffic by exploiting the broadcast nature of networks. In addition, attackers can easily conceal their identity by spoofing the victim’s IP address, making it difficult for the victim to trace the attack back to its source. Smurf attacks have become less common in recent years due to improvements in network security and the widespread adoption of anti-spoofing measures.
Slowloris is a type of DoS attack that targets web servers. The attack works by opening multiple connections to the target web server but sending the requests very slowly, thus consuming the server’s resources without actually completing the requests.
Slowloris attacks typically target the web server’s TCP/IP stack and its application layer, making it difficult for the server to distinguish legitimate requests from attack traffic. These attacks can be launched from a single machine or distributed across a botnet. Slowloris attacks are effective against web servers that have limited resources and are vulnerable to resource exhaustion.
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