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DDoS Attacks Explained: Causes, Effects, and Everything You Should Know

DDoS Attacks Explained_ Causes, Effects,

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks have become one of the most potent cyber threats facing organizations in the digital age. By flooding targeted systems and resources with excessive traffic from multiple sources, these attacks can effectively disrupt services and bring down websites and networks. 

The scale and complexity of modern DDoS attacks have grown tremendously thanks to the expanding base of insecure internet-connected devices that can be compromised and weaponized. 

Hardly a month goes by without reports of a major site or service being impacted by a high-profile DDoS attack campaign. The financial losses and reputation damage caused by prolonged outages make understanding these threats paramount for modern enterprises. 

This article will explore various facets of DDoS attacks including what they are, who carries them out, why they do it, how the attacks are executed, their repercussions and how potential targets can equip themselves to handle such threats. 

By grasping these key issues, organizations can evolve more resilient security postures against one of the most menacing cyber weapons existing today.

What is a DDoS Attack?

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a targeted server, service, or network by overwhelming it with a massive flood of internet traffic from different compromised devices and networks. It effectively makes the system or resource unavailable to its intended users. 

DDoS attacks achieve this by using multiple machines/devices to target the victim system and flood it with more traffic than it can handle. This causes disruption, slowdown, or total unavailability of services to legitimate users.

DDoS attacks have become quite common in today’s connected world with the proliferation of automated attack tools and compromised computers/internet-connected devices that can be misused for such cyberattacks. 

Attackers use botnets comprising large networks of such already infected and remotely controllable endpoints to launch powerful DDoS attacks capable of bringing down even large servers and networks.

Common Targets of DDoS Attacks

Some common targets of DDoS attacks include:

  • Websites and web servers
  • Cloud services and infrastructure
  • DNS servers
  • Media and entertainment sites
  • Gaming platforms and servers
  • Financial services networks
  • E-commerce sites
  • Government agency websites

Attackers often target sites and services that have high visibility, high network traffic, and represent reputational or financial value. Taking down such sites can allow attackers to extort money, cause loss of business, harassment, reputational damage, loss of user trust etc.

Major Causes and Motives Behind DDoS Attacks

  • Financial Gain: Extortion and blackmailing site owners by threatening DDoS attacks unless a ransom is paid.
  • Revenge Attacks: Disgruntled customers, and exiled employees launching attacks driven by grudges.
  • Activism: Attacks with political motives to bring down government sites, etc.
  • Diversion Tactics: Often used to divert security resources before a more stealthy attack.
  • Cyberwarfare: Used as an offensive tactic to cripple the critical infrastructure of enemy states.
  • Amusement: Some technical users launch small attacks just to check vulnerabilities.

Common DDoS Attack Vectors and Techniques

Some major techniques and traffic types used are:

  • Volume-Based Attacks – These attempts to flood the bandwidth by sending huge volumes of junk traffic. Common volumetric attacks include DNS amplification, UDP floods, ICMP floods, etc.
  • Protocol Attacks – They target inherent weaknesses of communication protocols like SYN floods, Ping of Death, Smurf attacks, etc. by not following expected handshakes.
  • Application Layer Attacks – Rather than overloading the network itself, they target APIs and apps by sending many complex requests. Harder to detect.

Major Impacts and Effects of DDoS Attacks

Effects of DDoS attacks may include:

  • Total disruption of online services and massive loss of revenue.
  • Reputational loss and erosion of customers’ trust in the site’s reliability.
  • Productivity loss from service unavailability impacts workforce efficiency.
  • May give attackers access to more dangerous follow-up attacks.
  • Can have follow-on and cascading impacts crippling dependent services.
  • May lead to liability issues and legal consequences if SLA claims are invoked.

DDoS Mitigation Approaches

There are some ways to limit DDoS risks including:

  • Maintaining capacity headroom and implementing load balancing across servers.
  • Enable only required ports and services on outward-facing systems.
  • Implementing firewalls and intrusion systems to detect anomalies.
  • Contracting with DDoS mitigation service providers.
  • Designing flexible infrastructure that can scale on demand.
  • Tracking and patching vulnerabilities in internet-facing assets proactively.
  • Promoting cybersecurity awareness among employees.


DDoS threats continue to pose challenges for organizations as attack tools get more sophisticated and attacks grow in size and frequency. 

By understanding different aspects like motives, methods, and potential impacts, organizations can develop more robust cyber resilience through policies, processes, technologies, and partnerships. 

Combining layered defenses with vigilance and rapid response capabilities is key to surviving modern DDoS assaults.


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