Understanding DDOS Attacks

If you are running a dedicated server, or a large company site, it is very important to be aware of DDOS attacks. DDOS or Direct Denial of Service attacks can spell disaster in a number of different ways.

1. They can disable your system. This is the main goal of most DDOS attacks. They will cause certain applications or your entire operating system to crash, leaving your site down.

2. They can consume your resources. A DDOS attack can eat up your RAM and system processes very quickly. If you are on a metered site, this can result in your host disabling your account. Dedicated server owners may experience the same thing.

3. They can consume your bandwidth. DDOS attacks are notorious for running up bandwidth costs. You may exceed your monthly bandwidth limit in just a few hours if you come under attack.

4. They can create bottlenecks on your server. You can imagine your server as a bottle. Normally, information enters at a steady rate, and does not clog in the narrow neck of the bottle. However, during a DDOS attack, literal tons of information are suddenly forced onto your server, creating a virtual clog in this narrow neck.

Now that you know what a DDOS attack does, how do they happen? Sometimes, you may not even be the actual target of the attack. Your hosting company many be under attack, or someone else on your shared server. The nature of a DDOS attack causes the problem to perpetuate, causing headaches for everyone on the same server or network.

A hacker will place a certain line of code, or install software onto your server. They are then able to “call” this information up at a later time and begin the attack. Many large companies have been victims of DDOS attacks by hackers that either did not like the company, or just wanted to see if they could take them down.

How can you protect yourself from a DDOS attack? First, you will need to install a firewall on your server or your site. If your host does not provide one, you can find a firewall that can be installed on your site to protect yourself.

Next, you will need to frequently monitor your site and your server’s processes. If you suddenly see a spike, you can take immediate action before it gets out of hand. There are also monitoring programs that can alert you when something goes wrong.

You can also install patches on your applications that have known security holes. This can go a long way in protecting your site.

While the average site owner may never experience a DDOS attack, it is still helpful to know what they are and how to avoid them. You can also make sure that your hosting company is actively working to prevent DDOS attacks to ensure you won’t be charged for bandwidth that resulted from this type of attack.

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Posted on 12/14/05 10:42 PM

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