The evolution of DDoS attacks: from small scale to a mass phenomenon

  • John Alexander Rehmann
  • December 19, 2023

Table of content

    The evolution of DDoS attacks: from small scale to a mass phenomenon

    In the early days of the Internet, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks were comparatively simple and often carried out by individuals or small groups. The earliest version, denial of service (DoS), involved a single source (server, computer, IoT device) bombarded a target with requests until it could no longer be reached.

    Due to the rapid development of technology and increasingly more secure defense mechanisms, attackers had to find a way to make their attacks more effective in order to remain profitable.

    When Panix, the world’s third largest ISP at the time, was hit by a DoS attack in the form of a SYN flood attack in 1996, nobody could have guessed how quickly and dangerously this type of cyber threat would develop.

    With the use of DDoS, the whole scene changed, and companies suddenly had to prepare for much more dangerous attacks. In a DDoS, a large number of systems are bundled together to produce a large-scale attack that hits the victim with much more force. Botnets typically play an important role in order to infect the largest possible number of systems, which are then integrated into the DDoS attack.

    With the introduction of DDoS and a multitude of new attack vectors, the cybersecurity landscape has changed dramatically. The threat to companies has been growing ever since, as attacks have not only become more massive, but also more effective and sophisticated.

    Attack behavior is changing

    In the beginning, DDoS attacks were aimed at customers’ Internet connections, or the so-called app stream. The aim was to overload these connections in such a way that the desired effect, i.e., the website not being reached or the entire server being paralyzed, was achieved. The attackers were mostly technically adept lone wolves. The danger, although real, was limited due to the low volume of attacks – especially when companies had implemented dedicated protection.

    Today, the actual implementation of DDoS attacks has changed. It is no longer necessary to be technically adept and familiar with the subject matter. Instead, all you need to do is look around the Internet for a dubious provider of DDoS attacks, book them and specify the target of the attack. The booked “service provider” then does the rest.

    Cybercrime-as-a-Service has massively increased the risk, as offering DDoS services has become a lucrative business. Also, the low barriers to entry make it possible for anyone interested to book such an attack from the comfort of their couch within a very short space of time.

    The emergence of various criminal DDoS groups has made online life much harder for companies. Hacker groups such as NoName057(16) or Anonymous Sudan are increasingly professionalizing DDoS attacks under a political cover in order to cause even more damage in the future.

    However, DDoS-as-a-Service is not the only recent evolution; the attacks themselves continue to develop. In addition to new vectors or completely new forms of attack, such as carpet bombing, other facets have been added that increase the danger. It also remains to be seen how the use of AI will further affect the development and associated consequences of DDoS attacks.

    The professionalization of DDoS attacks

    A worrying development is the emergence of applications that allow DDoS buyers to configure devices and acquire additional resources through in-app purchases. One such tool is DDoSia, which allows DDoS buyers to control their attacks.

    This application not only offers in-app purchases, but also comprehensive support that makes it easy for even the most inexperienced users to carry out complex attacks on a wide range of targets. With DDoSia, the threshold for participating in DDoS attacks is drastically lowered, making it a breeze for even the least tech-savvy users to carry out such attacks.

    To make matters worse, users who join this DDoS project are rewarded by the providers in the form of cryptocurrency for every attack they carry out. This approach alone illustrates how hacker groups are now professionalizing and taking DDoS attacks to the next level of danger.

    The need for highly effective protection

    As attacks become more and more complex, it is essential to strengthen your defenses. Even in-app purchases can be used by attackers to amplify their attacks with a single click. Improved security awareness and a proactive approach are necessary to protect against this evolving threat and to keep pace with the ever-evolving landscape.

    The evolution of DDoS shows how attack vectors and attacker motivation have kept pace with technology. Companies and organizations need to be aware of this constant risk and take adaptive protective measures to effectively protect themselves from DDoS attacks.

    If you have any questions on this topic, our IT security experts are always available to answer them.

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