Understanding Different Types of DDoS Attacks and How To Protect Against Them

Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks have plagued businesses for decades. Unfortunately, while companies strive to strengthen their security and protect their systems from the threats that these attacks pose, the criminals behind DDoS attacks are also putting their all into creating increasingly complex cyber threats that take companies unawares. 

The rise of DDoS attacks is a problem that all organisations need to take incredibly seriously. While the attacks that hit the headlines tend only to concern large, multinational companies, the reality is that these attacks can cause damaging and expensive periods of interruption for far smaller businesses at any time. 

What is a DDoS attack? 

A DDoS attack is a type of cyber crime which aims to take down a server, service or network by overwhelming it with huge amounts of traffic. The attack begins by flooding the target with traffic, and continues to the point that the server or network can no longer function for its users. It’s made possible with the use of a considerable number of compromised computer systems. Those orchestrating the attack will use these systems to send traffic to the target, and quickly bring down the service or network under threat. 

Five common DDoS attacks to be aware of 

DDoS attacks have evolved over the years, and there are now several different types of attack that IT professionals and business owners should be aware of. The following DDoS attacks are amongst the most common risks companies currently face. Take a look at these different styles of DDoS attacks to learn more about how they work and how you can protect your company from them. 

Advanced Persistent DoS (APDoS)

As the name suggests, Advanced Persistent DoS (APDoS) attacks are some of the most difficult for IT teams to deal with. These attacks make use of vast network-layer attacks, and aim to flood applications with traffic. The multi-level aspect of the attacks makes them particularly tricky to combat, as teams need to fight off attacks coming from a number of vectors at once. 

Once an APDoS attack is in full flow, the target will be receiving upwards of tens of millions of requests every single second. This quickly brings a system to its knees. The time element of these attacks is another challenge, as APDoS attacks can go on for a prolonged period. In some cases, the attacks last for a number of weeks. As you can imagine, the interruption caused by such a lengthy attack can be seriously problematic for the business being targeted, causing huge amounts of disruption and reputational damage. 

Sadly, APDoS attacks are becoming more prevalent, so today’s companies need to be aware of this new threat and take appropriate precautions. IT teams should be well versed in how the attacks work and what needs to be done to stop them, and all team members should be fully aware of the company’s response plan should an attack happen. 

SSL-Based Cyber Attacks

Encryption has long been used to help keep information and data safe, but today’s cyber criminals are leveraging this idea and using it to their own advantage. 

Now companies have another type of DDoS attack to prepare for. This one revolves around encryption technology. There are a few different types of SSL-based cyber attack now in circulation, including SYN floods, HTTPS floods, SSL renegotiation attacks and encrypted attacks on applications. 

SSL-based attacks make it incredibly difficult for servers and networks to decide whether or not traffic is malicious. This means that when the target is flooded with traffic, it fails to filter out the illegitimate traffic and comes under a huge amount of stress as a result.

This is something that businesses are now taking steps to prepare for. There are a few things that companies can do to reduce the likelihood of an SSL-based attack causing significant disruption. Companies are now deploying innovative ways to manage encryption technology, making it more easily scalable and capable of dealing with such threats. 

IoT Botnets

Botnets are a relatively new problem for businesses, but they’re fast becoming one of the most prevalent forms of DDoS attack. They work by exploiting particular vulnerabilities of Internet of Things devices, which often leave doors open to attackers due to their lack of regulation and set security standards. 

Botnets can be used to infect vast numbers of IoT devices, which can then turn their attention to a predetermined target to launch a highly sophisticated and challenging attack. This form of attack is changing pace quickly, so companies need to be fully aware of how these attacks work and the particular risks that IoT botnet attacks could pose in the near future. 

DNS Water Torture Attack

A DNS water torture attack can quickly take a server down by using up its resources via a flood of malicious lookup requests. The form of attack is also commonly known as a DNS NXDOMAIN flood attack. It’s a difficult one to overcome because the lookup requests in a water torture attack will be coming from what looks to be a legitimate source, so companies can’t simply block the requests. However, there are things that can be done. 

IT and security professionals are advised to monitor lookup requests continuously, and keep an eye out for any anomalies in the level of traffic. This can give an early indication of an attack, giving teams more time to solve the problem. Attack mitigation tools should also be equipped to deal with such a problem.

Permanent Denial of Service

A permanent denial-of-service (PDoS) is a serious and potentially catastrophic form of DDoS attack. The attack causes such damage to a system that it cannot be repaired. Insteads businesses are faced with having to replace or install hardware before they can get back up and running again. 

This attack works through exploitation of vulnerabilities that exist within the company’s systems. Some organisations are more exposed to these risks than others. For example, businesses that are heavily reliant on IoT devices should be particularly careful. In order to prevent risks, businesses should complete thorough audits on their systems and update these regularly. Establish whether there are any vulnerabilities that could be exploited, and take steps to strengthen security as much as possible. 

DDoS attacks can bring businesses to a grinding halt, and as we’ve seen in some cases the damage they cause is irreparable. Keep an eye out for new and emerging forms of this serious type of cyber attack, and make sure your business has all relevant security measures in place to keep it protected. For more information on how to keep your company safe from DDoS attacks, contact our team today.