There are many great things about the internet. It is a fantastic tool for learning, socializing, and of course, gaming. Many of us are dependent upon the internet in our personal and professional lives, but unfortunately, this makes online services and infrastructure an attractive target for hackers and other malicious actors.
A distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack is one of the most common forms of attack that are used by hackers. It is relatively simple to pull off and can be devastatingly effective. Of all the different types of hacking attacks, DDOS is the one you most likely have heard of. But what exactly is it, and how can you defend yourself against it?
What is a DDOS Attack?
A denial of service (DOS) attack, as the name suggests, is an attack which is designed to make a service inaccessible to other users. A distributed denial of service attack, on the other hand, is spread across a network of machines, usually a botnet. A botnet is a network of compromised computers which cybercriminals are in control of.
This type of attack is much more severe and much more effective. By utilizing the botnet, malicious actors can direct a massive volume of traffic towards a target network, overwhelming it and making it inaccessible to others.
The combination of a relatively simple attack vector and the widespread availability of high-speed internet means that DDOS attacks have become a major headache for businesses, organizations, and even governments. Besides affecting network availability, DDOS attacks can harm businesses in other ways. Loss of trust from customers and lawsuits can also arise due to DDOS attacks.
DDOS and Gaming
While online games have not traditionally been the targets of DDOS attacks, this has changed in recent years. Disgruntled gamers have been known to take their frustrations out on developers and other service providers by launching DDOS attacks against their networks. In one of the more extreme cases, attackers held the servers of the MMO Albion Online to ransom, refusing to relent their attacks on the network until they were paid.
Cases regarding ransom are, thankfully, rare. However, attacks which are merely meant to disrupt the service are more common. Often, hackers undertake a DDOS attack against a particular developer or service provider to harm their reputation and standings among gamers. In some cases, these attacks may even be initiated by other companies looking to hurt their rivals.
It is also possible for DDOS attacks to be launched against a gaming service with the intention of harming the players themselves, rather than the company behind the game. By targeting their DDOS attack at the IP address of a specific player, malicious actors can slow their network connection down to a crawl, severely hampering their ability to play. Anyone who plays online games regularly will understand that even a small amount of lag can ruin the experience completely.
How to Protect Yourself
DDOS attacks have become popular amongst attackers, in large part thanks to the relative ease with which they can be carried out. However, there are still a number of measures you can take to protect yourself against the effects of a DDOS attack.
First of all, and perhaps most importantly, ensuring that you are using the internet in a responsible and above all legal way will reduce the risk of becoming a part of a hacker’s botnet significantly. The malicious code that hacker groups use to take control of computers can easily be hidden in a media file, such as an image, video, or music file. That’s yet another reason to avoid illegally torrenting media.
Secondly, a decent antivirus application is essential, and, by all measures, it’s the best defense system that most of us can have.
Finally, a virtual private network (VPN) service will keep your identity safe, and, therefore, prevent you from being targeted by attackers (find more about it https://nordvpn.com/gaming/). When you connect to the internet through a VPN, your computer will first connect to the VPN server. That server then handles all of your internet requests, returning the information to you in an encrypted form. Some VPS providers also offer specific measures for countering DDOS attacks, as well as other common attack vectors.
DDOS attacks are a growing problem, for individuals as well as businesses. Fortunately, with a few simple steps, you can keep yourself protected online. Make sure to avoid any illegal downloading activities, and equip yourself with antivirus and VPN tools to maximize your overall virtual security.