What is a DDoS?

We answer your question, “What is a DDoS?”

It stands for “distributed denial of service,” but you can just call it a “dee-doss.”

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Defining DDoS

Bad guys use DDoS attacks to pummel web sites with massive amounts of Internet traffic.

For example, if you’ve ever tried to call in to a radio station for a contest, you might have gotten a busy signal.

That’s similar to a DDoS attack on the Internet.

So many people are trying to use a website that no one can use the website.

It’s a “denial of service” and it comes from many places, so it’s a “distributed denial of service.”

Bad guys do it on purpose to shut sites down.

Attackers launched one of the biggest DDoS attacks of all time in October of 2016, which ended up paralyzing big sites like PayPal, Twitter, Netflix, Amazon and Reddit for hours.



Who is DDoSing?

DDoS attackers often want to take out a competitor’s site or business, if only for a limited time.

Some want to punish fellow gamers or retaliate after a news story they don’t like.

They turned the Internet firehose —a flood of traffic — on the security news site KrebsOnSecurity in September, 2016, after it reported on an underground operation that appeared to be running DDoS attacks, according to the site.

Others shut down Newsweek’s site the same month after an article about then presidential candidate Donald Trump and Cuba, reported Ars Technica.

Some DDoSers want to avoid taking school exams or want to take revenge against a university.

Law enforcement is trying to shut down DDoS sites and their customers.

Europol said it shut down the world’s largest DDoS marketplace, webstresser-dot-org, in April 2018.


DDoS attacks sometimes try to shut down schools during finals week

Some DDoS attackers try to shut down school sites during finals week. Image: Nikolay Georgiev



You may not really know if your favorite site is under a DDoS attack — all you know is that you just can’t log in or post something right now.

But behind the scenes, cyber crooks could be flooding the site with web traffic.

It could last days and cost companies millions of dollars.

The bad guys could demand ransom or maybe just want to teach someone a lesson.

Even worse, you might be a part of the problem.


A DDoS is like a firehose of web traffic directed at a site to shut it down

A DDoS attack is like a firehose of web traffic directed at one site to shut it down. Image: iStock


What You Can Do

If you don’t change the passwords that come on your router, security camera, smart TV, baby monitor or other connected device, cyber crooks can take it over and use it to bombard other people — without your knowledge.

Your device becomes part of a botnet — an army of zombie devices that the attackers control.

Some cyber criminals sell access to their DDoS systems, so anyone can pay them to use your devices to hurt others.

You’ll want to change the default passwords that come on your devices to help prevent DDoS attacks.

Come up with long, strong passwords and use a password manager to keep track of them all.

Then, you’re protecting yourself — and the sites you want to use and enjoy.


Main image: Firehose. Credit: iStock

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