You’ve likely heard about websites and businesses experiencing a DDoS attack. However, it doesn’t seem like something that might affect you personally. These attacks are dangerous to more than just websites.
Understanding A DDoS Attack
DDoS stands for distributed denial of service and involves overwhelming a website or online service with large amounts of traffic from multiple sources. Instead of being able to handle the sudden influx, the website crashes and isn’t able to receive legitimate traffic.
Over 2,000 attacks occur daily around the world and over 1/3 of downtime incidents are blamed on DDoS attacks. Hackers attempt these attacks to prove a point, shut down services, mask a different hack, and/or prevent site access. Attacks can last for hours or even over a week.
How It Affects You Personally
The most obvious impact to individuals is the inconvenience of not being able to access a site or service. However, some attacks are also used to steal data in the process.
The not so obvious impact is your computer could be used as part of the DDoS attack. Cyber criminals don’t just have thousands or millions of extra computers lying around. Instead, they exploit vulnerabilities in operating systems and software to install malicious code on computers around the world. This is called a botnet.
When the time comes, all the infected computers are called to action to launch the attack. Since DDoS attacks are so popular, hackers even lease ready-made botnets to each other for quick attacks.
Related Read: 12 Cybercrime Prevention Tips to Keep You Safe Online
How It Affects Everyone
The average DDoS attack lasts for 15 hours. In that time, a site or service’s reputation could be completely ruined. The losses are staggering for many of those hit. In fact, 40% of organizations experience losses of over a million dollars a day.
When healthcare, financial, and other time-sensitive sites are hit, the results can be catastrophic. For instance, what would happen if a hospital’s system is shut down due to a massive DDoS attack? They’d be crippled until they could stop the attack and put new precautions in place.
DDoS Attacks Hurt IoT
With the Internet of Things growing in popularity, cyber criminals have even more devices to use to create their botnets. Yes, your smart refrigerator could be used for criminal activity. The reason IoT devices are being used is because they don’t usually have the same level of security as most computers.
In 2015, 21% of DDoS attacks stemmed from IoT devices. A not so comforting thought is they’re not just being used as part of the botnets. They’re also the target. So, a self-driving car could be stopped dead by a targeted DDoS attack.
Related Read: The Risks Involved with Connected Home Devices
It’s not difficult to protect yourself from becoming part of a DDoS attack. A few things you can do include:
- Use updated antivirus software, such as Digital Care AntiVirus Complete
- Be careful opening emails and attachments – if you’re not sure, don’t open it
- Avoid clicking on ads on sites and emails
- Skip suspicious sites or sites you don’t trust
- Use stronger security on any IoT devices
The more people who avoid the malicious code, the less devices hackers have to create destructive botnets.
Contribution by Crystal Crowder
About the Author
Crystal lives and breathes tech. She’s spent over a decade writing tutorials, reviews, and more on tech, business, and lifestyle sites. Her idea of fun is settling down with the latest tech and gadget news.