Denial of service attacks is the kind of hacking attacks designed to render businesses, organizations, and companies incapable of providing services to their customers and clients. They are deadly cyber-attacks that have been causing companies to run into losses during the moments they happen.
Whenever there is a denial of service attack, the genuine customers of the business will be unable to access the services that the business offers online. Internet services will also be temporarily halted during the denial of service attack as the attack causes the servers to be inaccessible.
How a Denial Of Service Attack Happens
A denial of service attack is orchestrated by getting several computers that are connected to the internet. To avoid getting traced back, the hacker will break into many computers, which they will use to carry out the denial of service attack. Using several servers, the hacker will prepare a script to install and run on the conquered computers.
Once these scripts are initiated, they will flood the target company or business servers with unending requests for information. The server will be overwhelmed by such requests and unable to provide services to genuine customers and users of the services.
Denial of service attacks are meant to distract the server from handling regular business services and pay attention to the hackers. The hackers will flood the servers with many requests to ensure that the servers have nothing else apart from responding to these requests. When the server is under the stress of responding to all these requests, it might even shut down or stop responding at all.
The nature of the denial of service attack is such that the server should be responding to genuine customers and users of the business. Instead, the server is busy handling the flood of incoming requests, and the customers are locked out of services. They cannot carry out transactions through the website or web application, which translates into a lot of lost business for the company undergoing a denial of service attack.
Whenever a denial of service attack happens, the servers that have been affected cannot render regular services to the customers. These attacks are usually timed when the business is carrying out a lot of transactions. During seasons of high demand from the customers, denial of service attacks is used to ensure that the business cannot carry out transactions.
The business will not make as many sales as it would have when undergoing a denial of service attack. When its current computing resources have been overwhelmed by the requests from the hackers, the business will not be able to provide services to its customers.
The period of the denial of service attack is not sustained and, as it is expensive to carry out, will only persist for several hours or a whole day. However, the effect of the attack is enormous, which is why many companies are often afraid of denial of service attacks. These attacks will make their services inaccessible to the public for several hours, resulting in plenty of lost business.
However, the damage that these attacks can do to your computing resources is extensive. The number of transactions that your servers will have handled for every second of the attack can run into the millions. Even when you have several servers handling the web applications and websites used by your business, handling millions of transactions per second simply blacks out your computing resources.
You will be unable to determine any course of action in this duration, and your servers will soon shut down due to too much processing. The denial of service attack is usually intended to overwork your servers so that they will be unable to serve any requests. As such, your business or company will not be able to deliver services to its customers. This has a substantial economic impact on your business and how well it can survive such attacks.
The planning for the denial of service begins with planning for your servers. The hackers will usually target your web address, and as such, they will not do much research into where your servers are located. However, there is the possibility that the hackers will also research your IP addresses in case your web application is spread out across several servers.
In this case, the hackers will prepare a script that will be used to send the requests to your servers. The scripts are designed in such a way that they will set some time between each request. They will also send a given number of requests to the server to ensure that they do not lock them out immediately. However, these scripts are designed to run on multiple computers at the same time. They can be installed as mobile apps by unsuspecting users and can even be spread to attack computers in a phishing campaign.
Once the attack script has been downloaded and installed on a device, it will contact the command computer and wait for the time to reach. The denial of service attack looks like a bomb that has been set to detonate at a particular moment.
When this time reaches, all the computers and devices with the script that is supposed to carry out the attack will connect to the victim’s servers and start making the relentless requests. Unknowingly, the servers will return responses, but it will be too late to stop sending these as the number of devices used to carry out the attack will be very many.
The computers that are targeted in the attack will not handle all the incoming requests simultaneously. The resources will be diverted to dealing with the denial of service attack. At this moment, the usual customers who access the website will not reach the services. The customers who needed to make a purchase at the attack time will meet an error page.
They will not be able to access the services they need, and shopping for them will be impossible at that moment. The customers will also be unable to load app content and any other online resources that depend on the under attack servers.
As you can see, denial of service attacks is very dangerous and can put businesses out of operations for several hours. While the denial of service attack occurs, no one can stop it without taking the servers offline. The servers will also experience burnout during the attack as they will be handling many requests simultaneously.
The Impact of Denial of Service Attacks
Companies that are the target of denial of service attacks cannot provide any helpful services to their customers, clients, and partners for the duration of the attack. Services are disrupted, which can mean that government services will be inaccessible if the government servers target the denial of service attack.
The government citizens will be unable to access the services that they so much needed, which means that operations such as migration services and obtaining licenses for businesses will not be possible. The service providers will be out of business for the duration of the denial of service attack, and the customers will notice the disruption in their services. Any information that is being uploaded during a denial of service attack will not get to the servers. If a backup or online storage service is the target of an attack, the users will not use it.
If the target is a music streaming service, you will not play any music while the servers are under a denial of service attack. This is because the servers are all responding to the devices that initiated the attack. Any new connections will be connected as the possible capacity of the servers will already have been filled by the attacking devices.
The denial of service attack will make it impossible to access any services on the webserver that is under attack. Reading emails or news at the moment will be impossible as the servers will be too busy.
Additionally, most servers that experience these kinds of attacks usually go offline to avoid accumulating utility costs responding to the hacker’s requests.
During this moment, the services are offline and cannot be reached. However, the technicians will be busy restoring services, locking out the IP patterns of the scripts, and tracing back the attack.
Servers that have been affected by the denial of service attack will also have been overworked, and in some cases, they may even get damaged.
Getting overworked during the denial of service attack causes the servers not to respond, and they might even lose the information stored on them. Additionally, the networks are also affected during the denial of service attack. During this moment, the entire network is flooded by denial of service requests, and the servers and attackers use the entire bandwidth.
The other network users will not access the services they need as the denial of service attack is occupying the entire network. An overworked network will also cause a rise in the maintenance and operational costs for the servers. The company that hosts the servers will face an inflated bill due to the denial of service attack.
Denial of service attacks are also known to be quite intrusive into everyday business processes, and they might cause a lot of economic damages. The denial of service attack will mean that business will not go on as usual, and the business partners will not reach the business. This means that the business will have a hard time explaining its absence for the duration of the attack.
In many cases, a denial of service will mean that the servers that are being targeted will not be performing regular services at the moment. These servers will also be out of service, and when they are overwhelmed by the incoming requests, they will not be able to perform their routine services.
A lot of economic activities are usually affected by the denial of service attacks. If the servers at the airport are the victim of the attack, flights will be affected, and traveling from one place to another will be very difficult. In the duration that the attack will have taken place, the airport will have made millions in losses.
People who intended to move from one place to another to conduct business will be inconvenienced, and they will even begin to sue the airport for their losses. As you can see, a denial of service attack causes many losses for all the parties involved, and the spread of damage for these attacks is extensive. This is why hackers prefer this form of cyberattack and use it when they need to make a more expansive scope.
Any transactions that were supposed to be processed during the denial of service attack will be pending for the entire duration of the attack. Any clients waiting for a response from the servers will be kept waiting for a very long time.
The denial of services are known to disrupt many businesses and the operations that were still in progress at the moment of the attack have to be stopped or halted as the denial of service attack will have taken over the entire operation and prevented anyone from getting the services that they were accessing at the moment.
Even though denial of services attacks are not intended to cause any damages to the servers that they target, the disruption of services is already severe enough. The people who need to make use of these services will not get the information they need, which will also affect their daily lives.
For instance, if the bank you were transacting with undergoes a denial of service attack, you will not be able to conduct your transactions. If you were at the mall making a payment at the time of the attack, you would not be able to pay for your goods, and you will be forced to abandon the shopping cart.
The economic damage of the denial of service attacks is very severe, with several sectors being affected by each attack. Any businesses that depended on the business under attack will not be able to conduct any transactions while the services they rely on are inaccessible.
Online e-commerce websites, for instance, might experience millions in losses when such attacks take place since they will not be able to make any sales. The customers will also not be very pleased with the service outage. Some of them will even start migrating to other shopping sites on the internet due to the bad experience caused by the denial of service attack.
Companies that needed to make orders and deal with other logistics during the denial of service attack will not do anything. As a result, they will have lost a lot of business in the process, which means that the economy will have been affected significantly.
This demonstrates the economic impact and damage that hackers mete out whenever they carry out denial of service attacks. So many of the vital services that we rely on daily can be turned off in a single attack. All the while the denial of service attack is taking place, we will not be able to carry out everyday transactions on these services, which means that our experiences will be affected.
The hours of business lost during the denial of service attack means that precious business is lost, and the companies cannot recover from these losses. In this period, many changes will have happened, and the business will also take longer to recover fully from the effects of the denial of service attack.
Denial of service attacks has another impact on the effectiveness of business to deliver services to their customers. Whenever the businesses have been attacked, the customers’ trust in these businesses will quickly fade away.
The business’s reputation will also be impacted, and recovering such lost trust is usually very difficult for any business. The business will have to work twice as hard after the denial of service attack to retain its customers.
Countering Denial of Service Attacks
Even if your business cannot stop denial of service attacks completely, several measures can be used to ensure that at least you counter the attack. The denial of service attacks does not always have to carry out their purpose or achieve their true intention.
You can counter the effects of these attacks and ensure that your services are still accessible even when you are under the worst denial of service attack. Being accessible to your customer around the clock will ensure that you maintain trust with them and keep business going on even when some hackers are bothering you with their distributed denial of service attacks.
For instance, the services that you offer to your customers can be spread to more than one server. The servers can be distributed around the globe to ensure that you can still reach a portion of your customers during the denial of service attack. Load balancing and distributing your web services to more than one server ensures that the denial of service does not knock you out completely.
As long as you have another server to distribute the processing load to, the denial of service attack will not be noticed by the customers and users of the services, which we should aim for as businesses and online service providers.
Servers that have been distributed across the globe will also ensure that customers do not even notice the disruption caused by the hacking incident. As such, they will go about their normal services without a need to worry.
Distributed computing is a relatively new concept that is heavily implemented in the cloud. Whenever your business signs up for a cloud service, you can opt for distributed services that ensure that your web services and web applications are run on physically separate servers and networks. This separation ensures that you can easily switch to healthy servers in the event of a cyber attack.
No matter how bad the attack might seem, being able to hand it over to another server means that you will not run into as much loss as you would experience with all your services inaccessible. Whenever your business has a distributed design and model for the servers, any denial of service attack being carried out will be easier to mitigate. The servers will hand over services and sessions that were still in progress to the other servers, and for the customers, there will be no disruption in service.
Whenever there are several servers to take care of keeping your web applications and databases running, you will be more comfortable even when under an intense denial of service attack. Even when one of the servers does down, the distributed computing model will ensure that the other computers can keep running and provide the services required by your customers without blinking.
This efficiency can be achieved at scale using cloud computing which provides you large-scale computing services at a fraction of the cost. When your business runs on the cloud, you will also be able to deal with denial of service attacks. The cloud will have more computing power to handle the nuisance of incoming requests without crumbling under the computation load.
Additionally, the cloud has a more robust network, and the requests will easily be handled along with the rest of your routine business requests. However, the denial of service attacks that take place on your cloud-based servers will lead to a slight spike in the computing cost as the cloud will be handling your requests. Compared with the costs of going offline for several hours, this is a much more attractive offer that will keep your business running even when the denial of service attack is running.
Denial of service attacks can also be mitigated by passing all your incoming traffic through some special filters before reaching your actual servers. As such, your servers will not be responsible for dealing with the traffic, and different servers will handle this. Your back-end architecture can be redesigned and modified to treat the traffic differently.
With this in place, the traffic that comes from the denial of service attack will be treated differently. Service providers such as Cloudflare are used to monitor the state of your website or web application. When you are under a denial of service attack, they will put up a friendly error page for you, informing the customers and users that visit your website about the current unavailable state of your web application.
Monitoring traffic through a separate server will also ensure that you can easily filter the incoming traffic and ensure that the incoming denial of service requests are identified and blocked. With this in place, you will be able to make out the difference between the genuine requests and the attack requests directed at your servers.
You will also be able to keep serving your genuine customers while you keep the attackers at bay by blocking their requests and marking their IP addresses to ensure that all their further requests are blocked. It is possible to counter a denial of service attack in real-time as long as you notice an unusually large number of requests from the same IP address. You can even set rules in your firewall that cap the rate of making requests on your web server.
As such, the additional requests that exceed this limit will be queued up to wait for when the server is less busy. This will ensure that the genuine customers of your business can access your services, and the denial of service computers will not be able to cause any damage to your services.
Installing firewalls is one of the primary defenses that you have against hackers and any cyber-attacks. It would help if you did not ignore this even as you set up your servers and applications. The firewalls are the primary defense point for your entire information infrastructure and ensure that your files are not accessed easily.
They also monitor, filter, and regulate the network traffic that is directed at your web servers and ensures that you do not overwhelm your servers with too many requests at the same time. A good choice of firewall will be necessary for your system. You can install the firewall on your servers or the networking devices. The gateway that you have on your network can have a firewall installed to ensure that your traffic is monitored and controlled all the time.
Any traffic that goes through the firewall is also filtered for malicious requests. Any time some IP addresses have an unusual amount of data and are making too many requests, the firewall will ensure that these devices are limited and their bandwidth throttled. This helps control the rate at which these devices can communicate with the servers and the accessibility of your services to the rest of the population.
In addition to firewalls, it is essential that you load balance your networks and distribute your computing among several servers. When your networks are load-balanced, they will quickly redirect the excess traffic in the denial of service attacks while the rest of the genuine and cleaning traffic can get to your servers.
The genuine customers and users of your services will get the services they need when you have a load-balanced network handling the rerouting and sorting of requests. The load balancing is also proper when you need to scale up your services and handle a more significant number of requests at the same time. Load balancing ensures that you can take care of unforeseen scenarios. Your network can always deal with denial of service attacks without impacting how the rest of the traffic is handled.
Design your servers to handle a massive number of requests in addition to adjusting for more than usual traffic loads. Whenever your servers are dealing with a tremendous amount of traffic, the design of your servers will determine whether you can deal with the traffic. The number of customers will sometimes increase, which should not be perceived as a denial of service attack.
Regular traffic is so hard to differentiate from the denial of service traffic because there is no way of knowing which traffic originated from where and as such, mitigating such attacks can sometimes get very complicated. However, it is always wise to have several servers that can act as a backup if your primary server gets blown off due to the denial of a device attack.
When you have an additional server, the services that your customers expect will be easily accessible, and they will have a consistent experience on your website or web application.
Keeping track of incoming traffic is also essential when you want to deal with denial of services better. The incoming traffic will have all the information that you need to detect the denial of service attacks before they can cause much damage to your computing infrastructure.
An IP whitelist will be used to determine which requests are genuine and which ones seem suspicious. When you have a way of keeping track of the IP addresses that your web servers are establishing connections and starting sessions with, you will also determine the number of requests that are made each second from the client devices.
Denial of service attacks tends to separate their requests in a manner that is most likely to form a pattern. The pattern formed by the requests will be easier to separate from the rest of the traffic, making the management of your network much more accessible. Additionally, you will also be able to keep track of the IP addresses that are sending too many requests simultaneously and ensure that you have blocked these IP addresses.
The client devices that are sending in too many requests per second are usually the ones that are responsible for the denial of service attack. As such, you should ensure that you keep track of these IP addresses and take measures to ensure that the connections to these devices are throttled or cut down to prevent your servers from getting overloaded by the massive number of incoming requests from these devices.
Machine learning is also being used to make firewalls smarter and keener on the traffic passing through them. Although this is still in the early stages of development, it is expected to make our firewalls more effective at controlling the traffic passing to the web servers. With this in mind, we will control traffic better and even prevent denial of services in the near future.
Artificial intelligence in most network operations, such as load balancing, also makes it easier to handle these attacks. Modern software providers are also creating applications that you can use to run several instances on your servers simultaneously on separate physical servers. When one of your servers has been brought down by the attack, the other servers will immediately kick into action and begin handling the requests coming in from your customers.
The users will not notice any delay or interruption in the delivery of the services, which means that their experience will be the same even when you are under a severe denial of service attack. As such, you will be able to continue rendering services to your customers and handle business without letting the denial of service attacks drag you down with them.
What Hackers Gain with DOS Attacks
Considering the vast capabilities of denial of service attacks, what drives the hackers to carry out such kinds of attacks in the first place? Hackers are usually hired to carry out the denial of service attack by competitors that want to be the leading suppliers in a busy season and will be sure to pay them reasonable amounts for the attack.
Additionally, the hackers might decide to attack a way of making a statement. Whenever the government is too hard on people, their hackers might decide to carry out denial of service attacks to make a political statement.
Hackers also try to challenge one another by setting a target for a denial of service attack. The hackers will do it for fame and getting approval from their fellow hackers. However, the hackers are usually unaware of the kind of damage and destruction carried out by their attacks.
They will go ahead with the attack regardless of the kind of damage they will cause, which makes them very dangerous people. Whenever a hacking group is joined together to carry out a denial of service attack, it can bring down an internet giant or an entire government department.
The hackers will do it for fame and recognition. Sometimes, they will do it due to being contracted by interested people who will contact them anonymously on the dark web. Once the hackers have been contracted, they will be given a target and then asked to render their services inaccessible at a given time.
The time that the client chooses will be the same duration in which the denial of service attacks will be carried out. As a result, the hacker’s client might decide on the busiest days of the shopping season to ensure that a competitor cannot provide services and make as many sales as they are supposed to.
Denial of service attacks benefits the hackers by giving them a way of proving their skills. It also enables them to get recognized by clients and fellow hackers and is one way to determine how skilled the hacker is. The extent of damage they can cause and the duration of their attacks determine the kind of impact they will be able to cause.
Additionally, the hackers will also be willing to orchestrate the denial of service attacks to test the security protecting some of the significant services online. Hackers will always try to take up a new challenge to prove their skills and prove how to secure the world outside it.
By carrying out a denial of service attack, the hacker will also be able to carry out command attacks that mean that they get to attack a lot more devices, which will help them carry out their attack. Modern-day hackers are always keen on sharpening their skills, and the bigger the challenge, the more willing they will be to participate in the attack.
In conclusion, denial of service attacks is the kind of attacks designed to keep one server so busy that it cannot take care of the other users. The computers used to carry out the attack are usually slaved to the hacker’s network and hacked in advance to be used in the final assault on the target servers and systems.
The hacker usually plans for the attack weeks in advance, and these kinds of attacks are usually timed. They will last for several hours, and in this time, the web services hosted on the targeted servers will not be accessible to all the customers. The customers will not be able to conduct transactions during this while, resulting in a lot of lost business.
The economic impact of the denial of service attack is massive, and these attacks have brought down many businesses. During the attack, the business will not be able to do any business, and transactions will always fail. The customers will also turn away from the business when it cannot deliver the services they are looking for.
This does show that denial of service attacks are very deadly cyber-attacks and can cause some terrible economic damage to businesses and the entire economy in general. Owing to the interconnected nature of businesses, the attacks can cause other businesses and services that depend on the targeted business to run out of business.
Understanding denial of service attacks is significant for modern businesses and organizations. It ensures that they can easily recognize the signs of such an attack and mitigate the attack more quickly. It is also essential to understand these attacks to plan your online resources and prepare better for such attacks. When you are aware of the impact of denial of service attacks, you will plan out your online services and computing infrastructure better to handle such attacks and their effects.