If you have been watching the news lately then will likely have noticed a spike in the reports of a DDoS attack. While you aren’t entirely sure what one is, the news report is sure to tell you that they are bad and are starting to become a mainstream way to attack companies.
If you are interested to learn more on the subject, keep reading.
It All Starts With Your Computer
Do you remember a time when you received an email from an unknown sender which asked you to either visit a website or download a file and open it? If you have ever clicked the link or opened the file then the chances are that your computer has been used as part of a DDoS attack.
How Does a Web Page Work?
At a basic level, each time that a person wants to visit a website they enter the www into the address bar and press return. The page is then displayed.
What is happening in the background, however, is a computer hosting the webpage which provides yours with the information your computer needs to show it on your monitor. For example, if you visit the Groupon Coupons page for Extended Stay America then the server finds the best deals for you, converts that into transferable data, and sends it to your computer to decipher.
However, as you have likely seen from visiting a news website during a breaking story when too many people try to access a website at one time, it becomes slow until it no longer responds.
How It All Works
Each time that you open a file or click a link from an email, your computer becomes infected with malware. This is small pieces of code which sit quietly on your computer until they are called to action.
The hacker who sent you the email will likely sit on this exploit for a number of months while they accumulate a large network of infected computers, just like yours.
Once they have a sufficient amount of they have chosen a target website, they can call your computer into action, whether you are using it or it is just idle on your study desk. When they make this call, unfortunately, your computer is quick to answer and follow their commands.
In the case of a DDoS attack, the command to follow is to visit a website.
However, given that there are millions of computers under their control, this actually means commanding a million visits to one single website.
As you remember from the news website example, this is likely to cause the website to slow down. However, unlike the news site example, people don’t simply stop refreshing the page and look elsewhere. With a DDoS attack, the requests to view a page don’t cease, meaning that the service not only becomes so overloaded that it can’t operate but so overloaded that the company responsible for it has trouble returning it to service while still being under attack.
How Can You Protect Yourself?