DDoS attacks are not only on the rise—they’re also bigger and more devastating than ever before. From independent websites to multinational banks, it seems like no one is immune.
In fact, a 2017 report from Cisco found that the number of DD0S attacks exceeding 1 gigabit per second of traffic will rise to 3.1 million by 2021, a 2.5-fold increase from 2016.
However, attackers aren’t the only ones who are capable of adapting. By examining five of the most famous DDoS attacks in recent history, you can learn how to better protect yourself in the future.
Let’s look at the most famous DDoS attacks and the lessons they have to offer.
WHAT IS A DDOS ATTACK?
Before we dive in to the five most famous DDoS attacks, let’s first review what is a DDoS attack.
DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service, which refers to the deployment of large numbers of internet bots—anywhere from hundreds to hundreds of thousands. These bots are designed to attack a single server, network or application with an overwhelming number of requests, packets or messages, thereby denying service to legitimate users such as employees or customers.
Usually, attackers begin a DDoS attack by exploiting a vulnerability in a single computer system. The attacker’s system then becomes the DDoS master and works to identify other vulnerable systems to turn them into bots.
The perpetrator directs those computer bots to attack through the use of a command-and-control server, or botnet. At that point, all the attacker has to do is tell the bots who to target.
Who would carry out a DDoS attack? As it turns out, the answer includes many different types of bad actors such as cyber-criminals or disgruntled employees. Perpetrators execute DDoS attacks for a variety of reasons, such as extortion, revenge, or politics.
DDoS attacks are measured by how many bits (binary digits) of traffic they send at the target per second—for example, a small attack might measure only a few megabits per second (Mbps), while larger attacks might measure several hundred gigabits per second (Gbps), or even more than one terabit per second (Tbps).
It’s important to note that not all DDoS attacks are bandwidth focused. For example, network protocol attacks are low bandwidth with many packets per second (PPS).