Types of cyber attacks: denial of service (DoS) attacks

11.07.2016 |

Episode #5 of the course Cyber security for small business by Cat Paterson


A denial of service attack aims to disrupt a whole network—attackers send a high volume of traffic and data to a site with the sole purpose of overloading the system with a huge number of connection requests.

It’s like trying to pour more and more water into a balloon until it can hold no more and it bursts.

For this to work effectively, the attacker will have “recruited” a large number of computers (unbeknownst to the users) to contribute to the high-volume attack. This effectively turns your PC into a zombie working on behalf of the attacker.

Your own computer may have even contributed to a DoS attack that hit the news without you even knowing!


Protect yourself and your business

Unless your business is growing, you will probably not be on the receiving end of a DoS attack; however, your personal and business computers could easily be used in an attack.

1. Audit your internet traffic
Are there any unusual spikes in traffic that you can’t account for? This could point to a DoS attack.

2. Has your company been involved in any polarizing political movement?
The focus of DoS attacks is highly likely to be aimed at shutting down commercial sites, usually paired with a ransom to get the site up and running again.

3. Keep your anti-virus, firewalls, and computer software updated
Any cracks in your armor can be exploited. You can also visit the Microsoft or Apple sites for current threats to make sure you are protected as much as possible.

In the next lesson, we are going to look at why you need to protect your personal and business data while surfing on a public WiFi connection.


Recommended book

“Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It” by Richard A. Clarke and Robert Knake


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