How DoS Attacks are Conducted

By John King, CISSP, PMP, CISM •  Updated: 01/07/23 •  4 min read

A denial of service (DoS) attack is a cyber attack that involves flooding a computer system or network with traffic in an attempt to disrupt or disable the system. DoS attacks can be launched using various methods and can significantly impact the targeted system or network. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how DoS attacks are conducted and what you can do to protect against them.

There are several different ways that DoS attacks can be conducted, but they all involve overwhelming a system or network with traffic. Some common methods include:

Ping flooding

A ping flood is a type of DoS attack that involves sending many ping requests to a targeted system or network in an attempt to overwhelm it.

SYN flooding

A SYN flood is a type of DoS attack that involves sending many SYN packets (a type of packet used in the TCP/IP protocol) to a targeted system in an attempt to overwhelm it.

HTTP flooding

An HTTP flood is a type of DoS attack that involves sending many HTTP requests to a targeted website to overwhelm it.

DNS amplification

A DNS amplification attack is a DoS attack involving sending many DNS queries to a targeted system or network to overwhelm it.

Botnets

Botnets are networks of computers that an attacker controls. DoS attacks can be launched using botnets, as the attacker can simultaneously send traffic to the targeted system or network from multiple sources.

One of the most significant challenges with DoS attacks is that they can be launched from anywhere in the world. This makes it difficult to trace the attack’s source and take action against the attacker. Additionally, DoS attacks can be difficult to defend against, as they overwhelm a system or network with traffic. This can make it difficult for legitimate traffic to get through and can cause the system or network to crash.

Steps to protect against attacks

  1. Use a web application firewall (WAF): A WAF is a type of software that is designed to protect web applications from attacks. It can help to mitigate the impact of DoS attacks by blocking malicious traffic before it reaches the targeted system or network.
  2. Implement rate limiting: Rate limiting involves limiting the amount of traffic sent to a system or network in a given period. This can help prevent DoS attacks by limiting the amount of traffic sent to the targeted system or network.
  3. Use content delivery networks (CDNs): CDNs are networks of servers that are distributed around the world. They can help to protect against DoS attacks by spreading traffic across multiple servers, which can help to mitigate the impact of an attack.
  4. Implement network security measures: Network security measures, such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems, can help to protect against DoS attacks by blocking or detecting malicious traffic before it reaches the targeted system or network.
  5. Use a cloud-based DoS protection service: Cloud-based DoS protection services are designed to protect against DoS attacks by filtering traffic before it reaches the targeted system or network. These services can help mitigate the impact of an attack and provide an additional layer of protection for your systems and networks.

In conclusion, DoS attacks significantly threaten computer systems and networks. They can be launched using a variety of methods and can have a significant impact on the targeted system or network. Individuals and organizations must implement various security measures to protect against DoS attacks. This can include using a web application firewall, implementing rate limiting, using content delivery networks, implementing network security measures, and using cloud-based DoS protection services. By taking these steps, you can help protect your systems and networks against DoS attacks and ensure they remain available and operational.

It’s also essential to be proactive in defending against DoS attacks. This means staying up-to-date with the latest threats and vulnerabilities and implementing appropriate security measures to address them. It’s also a good idea to have a plan in place for responding to a DoS attack if one does occur. This can include having a team to identify and mitigate the attack and having backup systems or networks in place to ensure that critical functions can still be carried out if the primary system or network is unavailable.

In summary, DoS attacks seriously threaten computer systems and networks. They can be launched using a variety of methods and can have a significant impact on the targeted system or network. To protect against DoS attacks, it’s crucial to implement a variety of security measures and to be proactive in defending against these threats. By taking these steps, you can help to ensure the availability and security of your systems and networks.

John King, CISSP, PMP, CISM

John King currently works in the greater Los Angeles area as a ISSO (Information Systems Security Officer). John has a passion for learning and developing his cyber security skills through education, hands on work, and studying for IT certifications.