DDoS attacks: A simplified guide + DDoS attack protection tips (2023)

Distributed denial-of-service(DDoS) attacks are cyberattacks used by hackers attempting to make a computer orwebsite unavailable by flooding or crashing the website with too much traffic.This tricky cyberattack has a few different aspects we’ll cover later on, butwhat you should know now is that they are on the rise — with the first half of2021 seeing over 5.4 million DDoS attacks alone.

It’s for this reasonthat you’ll find a detailed overview of common DDoS attacks below, along withcybersecurity tips to help protect your devices and network. We’ve covered howDDoS attacks work, different types of DDoS attacks, common warning signs ofDDoS attacks, and hacker motivations for carrying out DDoS attacks. You’ll evenfind real-life DDoS attack examples and the differences between DDoS attacksvs. DoS attacks. All of which will help provide some clarity as towhy you should avoid DDoS hacking at all costs.

How does a DDoS attack work?

The primary wayhackers accomplish DDoS attacks is through a network of remotely-controlled,hacked computers called botnets. These infected devices form what people know as“zombie networks” used to flood targeted websites, servers, and networks withmore data than they can accommodate.

Botnets can rangefrom thousands to millions of computers controlled by cybercriminals. Andcyberthieves use them for a variety of purposes, including sending spam anddifferent forms of malware such as ransomware. This is done in an effort tocompromise and/or steal user information to put some cash in the hacker’spockets.

Beyond these basics,there are a few different types of DDoS attacks to be aware of for your personal cybersecurity.

DoS attacks vs. DDoS attacks

Dos Attacks


  • Use a single corrupt device to flood targeted
  • Typically target one specific victim

DDoS Attacks

  • Use zombie networks to flood targeted
  • Target larger networks to affect more users

There’s moredifferentiating DDoS attacks from DoS attacks besides the absence of an extraconsonant. First, DoS attacks only use one internet connection to overwhelm atargeted network or website. DDoS attacks use botnets to form “zombie networks”to disable potential victims. These zombie networks make protecting targeteddevices more difficult when compared with DoS attacks.

These twocyberattacks also differ in who and what they target. DoS attacks mostly goafter single servers and/or networks, typically belonging to a singleindividual. DDoS attacks, on the other hand, target computer systems and/ordevices connected to the internet that usually belong to a business ororganization. This can help expand the number of potentially affected victims.

Types of DDoS attacks

DDoS attacksgenerally consist of attacks that fall into one or more categories, with somemore sophisticated attacks combining attacks on different vectors. The mostcommon categories are as follows, listed from least to most sophisticated.

Volume-based attacks

Volume-based attacks,like UDP (User Datagram Protocol) floods, for example, are typically what firstcomes to mind when people bring up DDoS attacks. These common DDoS attacksflood a site with a high volume of connections, overwhelming its bandwidth,network equipment, or servers until it is unable to process the traffic andcollapses.

Protocol attacks

Hackers createdprotocol attacks like the Ping of Death to target the resources websites use toprotect themselves like firewalls and load balancers. By disabling these tools,hackers may have a straight shot into the server/website they are trying todisable.

(Video) How To Stop DDOS Attacks ~ Ways to Prevent DDoS Attacks | Stop DDOS Attacks Now ~ Nico Knows Tech

Application attacks

Application layerattacks — sometimes referred to as Layer 7 Attacks — target popularapplications regularly. Techniques including HTTP floods and cache-bustingattacks target the layer where a server generates web pages and responds toHTTP requests. That way, they may initially appear as legitimate requests fromusers until it is too late, leaving the victim unable to operate their device.

5 warning signs of DDoS attacks

DDoS attacks do havedefinitive symptoms. But the symptoms often mimic other issues you might havewith your computer, ranging from a slow internet connection to a websiteappearing down, making it hard to determine whether you’re experiencing a DDoSattack without a professional diagnosis.

Some of thesewarnings signs of a DDoS include:

  1. Slow access to files
  2. A long-term inability to access aparticular website
  3. Internet disconnection
  4. Problems accessing all websites
  5. An excessive amount of spam emails

Again, most of thesesymptoms can be hard to identify as being unusual. Even so, if two or moreoccur over long periods of time, you might be a victim of a DDoS attack.

Noteworthy DDoS attacks

Statistics show DDoSattacks aren't going away anytime soon. In fact, there has been a 14% increase in DDoS attacks in recent years.

  • Mafiaboy,2000: A15-year-old hacker carried out a DDoS attack on university servers, allowinghim to compromise their network and crash major sites, such as CNN, Amazon,Yahoo, and eBay.
  • ProtonMail,2015: ASwiss encrypted email provider paid over $6,000 in Bitcoin to hackers after itssite crashed due to hackers using a combination of different DDoS attacks.
  • Dyn,2016: Hackersused malware to create a zombie network from smart TVs, printers, baby monitors, cameras, and other IoT devices. They then carried out DDoS attacks to compromisesites like Twitter, the Guardian, Netflix, Reddit, and CNN.
  • Amazon,2020: Directedat Amazon Web Services, hackers carried out a DDoS attack over a three daysperiod to unsuccessfully try and crash AWS operating systems.
  • Ukraine,2022:Ukrainian officials reported multiple DDoS attacks carried out by Russianhackers targeting Ukrainian government resources and websites.

Now that you know howdangerous DDoS attacks can be and how far they can reach, you might want tohave some tricks up your sleeve to help prevent DDoS hackers from making theirway onto your network.

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How to avoid getting DDoSed

Use thesecybersecurity tips to avoid DDoS hacking and keep your devices protected.

Use a VPN

Using a VPN — whether you're gaming with friends or shopping online — canbe incredibly useful for those trying to prioritize their online privacy. Thesework by masking and encrypting your IP address and other identifiable network elements so anill-intentioned hacker will have trouble disrupting your web access with a DDoSattack.

Updateapps and security software

Application attacksare when cybercriminals use outdated apps and security flaws to carry out DDoSattacks. To help avoid this cyberthreat, remember to keep your security systemsand apps up to date. These updates come with the upgrades necessary to fixsystem vulnerabilities that DDoS hacking could expose.

Beware ofphishing

Besides being one ofthe most prominent cyberattacks today, phishing is also a common sign of DDoS attacks. If you noticepotential phishing scams in your inbox, report them. The FTC reviews reports atreportphishing@apwg.org. And if you receive a smishing text message, you can send it to SPAM (7726).

Protectyour IP address

Some would say an IPaddress is just as sensitive as a Social Security number. Why? It’s a combination ofnumbers that can specifically identify you — or in this case, your computer.DDoS hackers may try to track your IP address to find the best way to exposeyour computer to malware and add you to their zombie network. Similar to SSNs,it's best not to share with others. And if you think it fell into the wronghands, did you know some internet providers allow you to change it? Simply login to your service provider and follow their instructions.

Installantivirus software

Since hackerstypically use different types of malware to first build zombie networks during a DDoS attack,having antivirus software installed on your devices is next to priceless. Thiscybersecurity tool can alert you of potential malware attacks DDoS hackers use,and work diligently to destroy them if they're legitimate.

(Video) DDOS Attack Explained | How to Perform DOS Attack | Cybersecurity Course | Edureka

DDoS attacks may notbe one of the newer cyberthreats roaming around, but that hasn’t stopped them fromtrying to take center stage. Use this information and the accompanying tips toelevate your DDoS hacking protection and ensure the Cyber Safety of yourdevices and online privacy.

DDoS attack FAQs

Round out your knowledgeof DDoS attacks by looking through some frequently asked questions regardingthis cyberthreat.

What arethe 3 types of DDoS attacks?

The 3 types of DDoSattacks include:

  • Volume-based attacks
  • Protocol attacks
  • Application attacks

Whatcauses a DDoS attack?

A DDoS attack occurswhen a hacker uses a network of infected devices (botnets) to flood a specificserver/website with requests until it crashes.

How longdo DDoS attacks last?

DDoS attacks can lastas long as 24 hours or more.

What arethe signs of being Ddosed?

Signs of a potentialDDoS attack include:

  • Slower loading times
  • A long-term inability to accessa particular website
  • Internet disconnection
  • Problems accessing the internet
  • Excessive amount of spam emails

Whoinvented DDoS?

Michael Calceperformed the first DDoS attack at the age of 15, hacking into a number ofuniversity websites and crashing major sites, including CNN, eBay, andYahoo.

(Video) How to protect yourself from DDOS Attacks

What isDDoS in gaming?

DDoS attacks canaffect online gamers by preventing them from accessing their online video games and streaming platforms. They can also hinder aplayer’s performance, causing increased lag time that benefits their opponents.

Are DDoSattacks illegal?

Yes, DDoS attacks arepunishable in a court of law. A hacker could receive jail time, fines, or both.


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