As DDoS attacks become more frequent, IT needs to add preventive measures to its security roster.
"If you push something hard enough, it will fall over.”
This concept may have comedic origins (it’s Fudd’s First Law of Opposition, from The Firesign Theater), but it’s all too accurate in the world of IT security as well.
Yes, if you overload a system, it will fall over — that’s what Denial-of-Service attacks (“DoS”) are all about. And while one given source might not be able to hit hard or often enough to do serious damage to your system, a million attackers can, all too easily. That’s a Distributed Denial-of-Service (“DDoS”) attack.
Granted, not all DoS and DDoS events begin with malicious intent; legitimate users can easily overwhelm services — both digital and non — that haven’t been provisioned or architected for massive surges in use. Consider downloads of major new songs, videos, operating system releases, or movie trailers; “Black Friday” opening hour at malls; traffic on major holiday weekends; slowdowns and crashes at popular sites like Twitter, Google, and Amazon — and at sites linked to or recommended by Slashdot, Reddit, Digg, or other popular sites. Even the phone system on maximum-calling times like Mother’s Day can inadvertently experience denials of service (this problem still persists in some places).
But Distributed Denial-of-Service Attacks are, increasingly, being used maliciously. Over the past year or so, DDoS attacks have hit PayPal, Bitcoin, HSBC, Sony, and gaming sites like Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Blizzard’s Battle.net, along with many other businesses and government organizations.
And the number, type and range of DDoS attacks continues to grow, making DDoS detection, prevention and mitigation yet one more security to-do on IT’s already long security list.