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Demystifying Distributed Denial-of-Service Attacks


Imagine a busy restaurant suddenly bombarded with fake reservations, overwhelming the staff and leaving real customers waiting outside. That’s essentially what a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack does to websites and online services.

A DDoS attack is a cyberattack that aims to flood a website or service with fake traffic, making it unavailable to legitimate users. Instead of one attacker, it uses a network of compromised devices (called bots) to send this traffic, making it difficult to block. It’s like a virtual flash mob clogging the digital doorway.

If the threat actors compromise your phone, computer or other WiFi-connected device, then it could be inducted into the botnet too! A breach of your systems is never good news, and being part of a botnet can severely slow down your connection or render the device unusable.

Breaking Down DDOS

How does it all work?

The perpetrator first builds a network of bots, often by infecting devices like computers or IoT gadgets with malware. Then the attacker remotely controls the botnet, sending instructions to each bot. Working altogether like one army, these bots simultaneously bombard the target website or service with traffic requests, overwhelming its capacity. Thus, legitimate traffic gets drowned out, making the website or service inaccessible.

This doesn’t just frustrate the service that runs the blocked website; it negatively impacts the end users, too. Some recent DDOS attacks you may recall from this past year include…

  1. The so-called largest DDOS attack the world has ever seen, which Google, Amazon and Cloudfare fended off in August.

  2. Popular fanfiction website Archive of Our Own was targeted by botnets on July 10, and subsequently went offline for over a day.

  3. The Swiss government experienced a DDOS attack on June 12 that shut down official websites three days before Ukranian President Zelensky

  4. Later that same month, the video game giant Activision Blizzard went offline to the dismay of players. Blizzard hosts games like Diablo IV, Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.

They’re incredibly prevalent! Nearly 20M DDOS occur every year with no sign of slowing. If you haven’t been impacted yet, there’s a strong chance that YOUR favorite website will be affected this coming year.


DDoS attacks can weaken online security and erode trust in the digital world. Don’t be surprised if your favorite website goes offline occasionally!

Just remember, sometimes legitimate traffic spikes or server issues can cause downtime for these sites, too. Be patient while you wait to access these services later, and take the time to educate yourself about what is going on and how to stay protected.

DDoS attacks are a real threat, but by understanding them and taking precautions, we can all help build a more secure and resilient digital world.

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