In the 21st century, it’s hard to imagine functioning without technology. Just think of how many times a day you look at your phone or switch on your computer. When you need an answer, you turn to Google; when you want to relax, Netflix is there. In fact, it seems that the internet can take care of your every need — be it social, financial or recreational.
Unfortunately, though, technology isn’t just useful to you but also to those who want to harm you. As technology grows more advanced, hackers and cybercriminals obtain new and sophisticated tools to launch their DDoS attacks, threatening your safety. But what is a DDoS attack, and why is it so dangerous? Keep reading, and you’ll find out!
What Are DDoS Attacks?
DDoS stands for distributed denial of service, and it’s one of the most common tactics hackers use to bring down a server. To put it simply, they flood a network with so much traffic at once in order to overwhelm the server, and it crashes. To do this, hackers use a large group of compromised computers called a botnet.
Now, the problem is that anyone can become a part of a botnet without even realizing it. If your antivirus program isn’t up to date, or you visit unsafe sites, your computer can become infected by malware. Contrary to popular belief, malware doesn’t just corrupt your files or damage your device. In fact, hackers often use it to covertly gain control over your computer and use it for their malicious purposes.
An infected device works as usual, but you’re no longer in charge. The actual owner, the hacker, can order your device to start sending requests to a server of their choice, along with hundreds of other devices. Ultimately, that leads to a crash.
Of course, servers can crash when they gain a lot of traffic naturally. But that’s not a DDoS attack — DDoS always comes with malicious intent. The hacker who’s launching it rarely does so just for fun – they usually have rather serious motives.
Why Do Hackers Perform DDoS Attacks?
If you’re new to the world of cyberattacks and criminals, it might not be obvious what the purpose of DDoS is. What could a hacker gain from disrupting a server? Sadly, there’s no easy answer — the motives behind these attacks vary. Here are some of the most common reasons.
Hackers often use DDoS attacks to target corporations and large businesses, knowing that they have high profits. Once they bring their servers down, they send a message asking for a ransom. The network stays under their control until they receive the sum they asked for, after which everything goes back to normal.
Political and ideological wars are no longer waged out in the battlefield. These days, the real frontlines are in cyberspace. Whether it’s rebellious groups using hackers to protest against oppressive governments or those governments targeting protesters, DDoS attacks are commonly used in this type of warfare.
If a large business handles lots of private information, it can easily become the target of a DDoS attack. In such a case, the attack serves as a distraction. While everyone is busy trying to resolve the problem, the hacker gains access to classified records and finds the information they need. The most sophisticated hackers leave very little trace, and no one even knows they were there.
Why Are DDoS Attacks Detrimental to Businesses?
Whatever the hackers’ motives may be, the most common DDoS attack targets are businesses. Large or small, they all face a similar danger as long as they are online. But how can a DDoS attack hurt your business, exactly?
Just imagine that a hacker attacks your company’s servers and brings them down for a few hours. The customers that would typically visit and purchase your products suddenly don’t have access to your site. New clients may be trying to visit your site too, but when they see that your website isn’t functional, they’re unlikely to return. In short, you can lose hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars as well as potential new clientele.
The longer your servers are down, the worse it gets. Soon enough, you’ll need to hire a team of experts to deal with your problem, which obviously won’t come cheap. On top of that, the hacker might ask for ransom, and after a few hours of losses, you’ll probably be more than willing to pay it.
But the worst damage you’ll suffer isn’t financial — it’s reputational. If your clients find out that your servers were hacked, they might have trouble trusting you with their personal information. No matter how loyal they were in the past, no one wants to believe their personal information is vulnerable. Soon enough, your pristine reputation will be tarnished, and not even by your own fault!
The only way to avoid this worst-case scenario is to put in place measures against DDoS attacks. That means you’ll need firewalls, antivirus software and perhaps even a special IT department to monitor your servers. It will surely cost you more, but in the long-run, you’ll be glad to have some peace of mind.
Protect Yourself Against DDoS Attacks
DDoS attacks are not child’s play — in fact, they have become the biggest threat to businesses in 2021. If anything, this threat will only get worse as our world becomes more digital. Don’t let yourself become a target; start looking into DDoS protection today. It’s the only way to ensure your customers’ safety and your company’s rise to success.
MJ Shoer is SVP, Executive Director, CompTIA ISAO, at CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association. CompTIA is the world’s leading tech association. Its mission is to advance the global technology industry. The CompTIA ISAO is an Information Sharing and Analysis Organization whose mission is to raise the cybersecurity resilience of the global tech industry. MJ has over 30 years’ experience in the IT industry, having founded and run an MSP for nearly 20 years before it was acquired as well as consulting with MSPs, SMBs and channel organizations.