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The Difference Between DoS and DDoS Attacks

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Difference Between DoS and DDoS Attacks

Denial-of-Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) are two different, yet similar, types of cybersecurity attacks that online businesses are at risk for. 

Increasing protection against cybersecurity is critical since hacker attacks happen every 39 seconds and the average data breach cost is as high as $3.92 million.

What is a DoS Attack? 

During a Denial of Service attack, a computer sends an enormous amount of traffic to the victim's computer. The web resource is unavailable to users by flooding it with more requests than the server can handle. During that attack period, regular traffic will be slowed down or completely interrupted. 

There are various ways to perform a DoS attack. For example, an attacker may exploit vulnerabilities in the target application to cause it to crash. Another example of a DoS attack is when the attacker sends many spam requests to a server to overwhelm it. 

There are also several types of DoS attacks, including 

  • Buffer Overflow Attacks - the most common DoS attack in which the attacker overloads the network address.
  • Ping of Death or ICMP Flood - this attack takes misconfigured network devices to send spoof packets that ping on every target computer.
  • SYN Flood - this attack sends network connection requests to a server but does not complete the attack. 
  • Teardrop Attack - the attacker sends IP data packet fragments to a network causing it to recompile them, which overwhelms and subsequently crashes the system. 

What is a DDoS Attack?

A DDoS attack is basically a multiplied DoS attack. Instead of using a single computer to send an attack, the attacker uses various internet-connected devices to launch a coordinated attack against the target. The more devices the attacker uses, the greater the possibility of taking the target system offline. 

DDoS attacks are usually performed using botnets. Botnets are networks of computers that the attacker controls which can be built using cloud computing systems. However, cybercriminals commonly build botnets from the systems compromised during their attacks. 

There are three main categories of a DDoS attack: 

  • Volumetric Attacks - The attacker disrupts or disables a service by sending overwhelming data, taking up all of its bandwidth, and leaving no room for legitimate traffic during the attack. 
  • Protocol Attacks - The attacker takes advantage of vulnerabilities in network protocols. 
  • Application Attacks - Applications have a finite amount of resources available. The attacker consumes network connections, memory, or processing power in an attempt to exhaust these resources. 

What is the Difference Between DoS and DDoS Attacks? 

As mentioned before, DoS and DDoS attacks are very similar. However, there are key differences. 

The following table lays out these differences in an easy-to-read manner: 

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Why Would Someone Execute a DoS or DDoS Attack? 

Regardless of which type of attack, there are various reasons that a cybercriminal may want to take businesses and websites offline. 

Typically, the reasons fall into one of the following categories: 

  • Financial: Hackers who are looking to receive a ransom payout to end the attack
  • Competitive: Malicious competitors that want to take out the competition
  • Political: A politically motivated attack used to expose an injustice, often called Hacktivism
  • Entertainment Value: Those making trouble just for sport
  • Revenge: An attack conducted or requested by a disgruntled employee (current or former) 

Regardless of the reason, a DoS or DDoS attack can do significant harm to a business or website. 

Who is Conducting These Attacks?

Multiple types of cybercriminals could conduct a DDoS or DoS attack. It could be an individual hacker or a hacking group trying to get a large payout from a company. 

Anonymous is a hacking group that targets companies that they disagree with politically. In recent years, major websites and services like Wikipedia and Paypal were victims of these groups. 

How to Prevent DoS and DDoS Attacks

The best way to protect against DDoS and DoS attacks is to deploy anti-DDoS software that identifies and blocks malicious traffic before reaching the mark. However, scrubbing network traffic can be difficult, especially if the attack is highly sophisticated. Experienced DDoS attackers use traffic that is similar to legitimate traffic, which means the scrubber could miss it. Even worse, the scrubber could mistake legitimate traffic for the fake ones, doing the attacker's job for them. 

There are some essential security practices that businesses and websites can do to help avoid attackers' attention. 

Always Keep the Site Updated

If the site is continuously up-to-date, it helps mitigate the risk of attackers exploiting vulnerabilities. 

Additionally, the risk of the site becoming a bot network is significantly reduced if it is updated.

Use a Powerful Security Plugin

DoS and DDoS attacks exploit issues like Slowloris (a DDoS attack software that allows one computer to take down a web server.) To resolve these issues, enabling a robust security plugin is recommended. 

Review Site Logs to Identify Issues and Improve Security

Websites have logs that help identify malicious behavior on the site. These logs allow you to find the exact source of a cyber attack. 

Hardern User Authentication

It is essential that you enforce strong password policies for every user. Additionally, it is crucial to add two-factor authentication to your website. These security policies make it more difficult for attackers to hack user accounts.

Increasing authentication policies may also lessen your consumer's concerns, as 92% of Americans have concerns regarding their privacy on the Internet. 

Bottom Line

DoS and DDoS attacks are similar in that they are usually going for the same end but with different methods of attacking. As we can take away from this article, the key differences between them are: 

  1. DDoS attacks use multiple computers for a coordinated attack, while DoS attacks use only one connection.
  2. It is more challenging to detect DDoS attacks because they stem from multiple locations. 
  3. DDoS attacks occur in larger volumes because the attacker can send enormous traffic to the victim's network. 
  4. DDoS attacks are primarily executed using botnets. DoS attacks usually come from script use. 

Regardless of how the attack is executed, your site is shut down for a long time, and it can cause serious system malfunctions. Every second your system is down is lost revenue and costly recovery processes. 

Speak with the Accountable HQ team today to learn how your business can protect against DoS and DDoS attacks.

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