A DDoS attack, short for a Distributed Denial of Service, is an attack using a network of compromised devices orchestrated to inundate a target with traffic, rendering its online services inaccessible. This nefarious technique capitalizes on the combined power of multiple devices, often hijacked through malware or other illicit means, to amplify the impact of the attack. Although no data is exfiltrated during the DDoS attack, the network will be effectively down, for the duration of the attack. Sometimes DDos attacks can be as long as multiple days and even weeks.
Layer 3 & Layer 7 DDoS attacks
These DDoS attacks can occur at the Network Layer 3 targeting routing infrastructure, or at the applications layer 7 for a more targeted attack on the API or website. Level 3 attacks can be extremely large, and the only true mitigation is to have enough global network capacity to distribute the attack and effectively soak it up. This is why only the very largest cloud providers such as Amazon, Google and Cloudflare can offer Level 3 DDos protection.
VerifiedVisitors partners with Google, CloudFlare and Amazon, so that you can have the full Ddos Layer 3 protection as well as the application layer protection for customized attacks on server, API or other application layer devices that are customized to hit your site. Reconnaissance scanning bots are typically used to map out the network topology and spot any application level weaknesses that are then subsequently subject to the DDoS amplification attack.
What is a DDoS Botnet?
A DDoS botnet typically takes over by subterfuge compromised PCs, and other IoT devices, such as IP based camera networks. These IoT devices with little to no security have provided DDos attackers with a plentiful supply of networked devices, capable of launching an amplification attack. More recently, we’ve seen the advent of “opt-in” devices, who are co-opted onto the network, and benefit from a small monthly revenue stream, in return for allowing their devices to be compromised. This allows the hackers to have a more stable and large pool of devices, without having to insert malware on each device. Infected devices using malware are often switched off, but the co-opted devices are encouraged to be left one, even when the device isn’t in active use.
Anatomy of a DDoS Botnet Attack
1. Infiltration and Recruitment
DDoS botnets typically initiate with the infiltration of devices, transforming them into unwitting accomplices. Malicious actors employ various tactics, such as malware distribution or exploiting vulnerabilities, to compromise a diverse array of devices.
2. Command and Control Infrastructure
At the core of a DDoS botnet's functionality lies its command and control infrastructure. This centralized hub directs the synchronized actions of the compromised devices, orchestrating the onslaught on the target. The attacks needs to be scaled accordingly, so enough devices with the correct amplification can overwhelm the target victims network. Network capacity isn’t going to be known so the hackers tend to push extremely large attacks that will overwhelm normal capacity and elastic compute parameters.
3. Attack Execution
Once the botnet is mobilized, the attack is executed with precision. The targeted system is bombarded with a deluge of traffic, overwhelming its capacity and leading to a denial of service for legitimate users. Typically, the service is technically still running, but it’s overwhelmed with requests that make it effectively inoperable. Poorly architected sites, who haven't protected their privileged network access points, find they can’t even access the infrastructure remotely to diagnose the issues. Manual reboot, just ensures the devices are swamped all over again.
Distinguishing Features of DDoS Botnets
1. Scale and Amplification
One distinguishing hallmark of DDoS botnets is their ability to scale rapidly. The sheer volume of compromised devices amplifies the potency of the attack, making it a formidable challenge for targeted entities.
2. Stealth and Persistence
DDoS botnets operate covertly, often evading detection by conventional security measures. Their persistence poses an ongoing threat, necessitating proactive cybersecurity strategies.
Mitigating the DDoS Botnet Threat
1. Network Monitoring and Anomaly Detection
Implementing robust network monitoring tools coupled with anomaly detection mechanisms is paramount. Swift identification of irregularities enables preemptive action against potential DDoS botnet activities. Adopting a stack with both Level 3 and Level 7 applications layer offers the best chance of detecting and mitigating each DDos threat type.
2. Traffic Filtering and Rate Limiting
Strategically deploying traffic filtering and rate limiting measures acts as a frontline defense. By discerning between legitimate and malicious traffic, these measures mitigate the impact of DDoS attacks.
In the relentless pursuit of cybersecurity excellence, understanding the intricacies of DDoS botnets is imperative. This article has shed light on the modus operandi of these malicious networks, offering insights into their anatomy and providing actionable strategies to fortify against their onslaught. As the digital landscape evolves, a proactive stance against DDoS botnets becomes not just a strategy but a necessity in preserving the integrity of online operations.