A Closer Look at DDoS Attacks: Types, Detection, and Defense Strategies
April 23, 2023, 4 min read
When multiple computers attempt to overload a single server with unwanted requests, this is known as a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. After a certain point, the server becomes so overloaded that it cannot handle any more requests, genuine or otherwise.
The number of distributed denial of service attacks increased by 341% during early 2020 and 2021. This is mainly because many businesses were compelled to go digital due to the pandemic, making them easy targets for cybercriminals.
One of the most dreaded forms of cyberattack is a distributed denial of service assault, and with good reason. It can be challenging, if not impossible, to stop a well-executed distributed denial of service assault. They can begin disrupting even the most advanced IT businesses’ systems at any moment. Over 120 million data packets were sent to GitHub’s servers in a single second during the most significant distributed denial of service attack ever in 2018.
No matter how large an assault is, the basic idea is the same. Inundate a server with an excessive number of requests. Repeat this process until it freezes or quits responding. Large sums of money can be lost due to service interruptions that take hours to fix.
But what is a DDoS attack in detail?
How Distributed Denial-of-Service Attacks Work?
Here, you can find the DDoS attack meaning.
Let’s skip the specifics and think in terms of an analogy instead. Let’s pretend you own a fast-food burger shop. Telephone orders are taken, and customers can pick up their food whenever they’re ready. One day, a joker places a dozen separate phone calls to your restaurant, ordering a hundred burgers.
That should keep all your chefs busy, so you can stop taking orders now. But the prankster is always late to get the burgers. You could not serve real consumers since all your time and energy was spent on false ones.
This can be frustrating, but luckily it only takes stopping one individual from destroying all the bogus orders. Their number can be blocked, and the issue will be resolved. This can also occur on a server. The server’s responsiveness to legitimate queries can be severely hampered by a rogue client sending many unnecessary requests.
However, as we have seen, it only takes one client for the server to shut down all requests from it. DoS assaults, the ancestors of today’s distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, are what this is called.
Now imagine that a group of jokers has been calling your fast food restaurant. Your landline never stops ringing, and you can never be sure who is calling. You can’t unilaterally restrict numbers without disrupting service to legitimate users. All of your processes have stalled. Such is the case when a server is subjected to a distributed denial of service attack when hackers generate traffic from several computers that look exactly like actual traffic, and the server, network, or website crashes.
Types of Distributed Denial-of-Service Attacks
Types of DDoS AttacksDDoS attacks come in a variety of forms. Some classes are more common and complex to detect than others, typically differentiated by their duration (short-term vs long-term). While a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack usually intends to overwhelm the targeted system, the methods employed might vary widely. There are three types of DDoS attacks.
Application Layer DDoS Attacks
In response to a request from a client, the server implements the appropriate logic at the application layer. The user sends an HTTP request to the server asking for the learning page when they type http://www.xyz.com/learning/ into their browser. All relevant data for the requested page will be retrieved by the server and returned to the client browser as a response.
This data collection and storage occurs at the application layer. When a hacker uses many bots or machines to flood a server with requests for the same resource, they have launched an application layer attack.
Most application layer attacks take the form of HTTP flood assaults, in which attackers repeatedly submit many HTTP requests to a server from various IP addresses. Constantly querying a server to produce PDF files is one such instance. The server cannot know it is under assault because the IP address and other identifiers are different with each request.
Protocol DDoS Attacks
The goal of a protocol assault is to completely drain a server’s or network’s resources, such as those of its firewalls, routing engines, and load balancers. The SYN flood attack is a type of protocol attack.
The TCP handshake must be completed before establishing a secure connection between two machines. TCP handshakes are used for exchanging initial configuration data between peers. The client initiates a new channel for most TCP connections by sending an SYN packet to the server.
SYN flood attacks involve the attacker overwhelming a server with many SYN packets using fake IP addresses. As each package is sent, the server acknowledges it with an SYN-ACK and requests that the client finish the handshake. Yet the server remains patiently waiting for a response from the client(s). In the end, it freezes up from waiting for too many answers.
Volumetric DDoS Attacks
In a volumetric attack, the target server is inundated with so much traffic that it can’t handle. The DNS amplification assault is the most widespread type of volumetric attack.
The attacker sends requests to a DNS server from the victim’s faked IP address. The DNS server subsequently transmits the response to the requested server. When done on a large scale, the target server can be overwhelmed by the flood of DNS answers.
DDoS attacks are a growing problem for many organizations and can have devastating consequences. To protect against these attacks, it is essential to understand the different types of DDoS attacks, the methods by which they can be detected, and the available defense strategies.