Distributed Denial of Service: How Can We Fight Back?

Distributed Denial of Service: How Can We Fight Back?

 By Charles Joseph | Cybersecurity Advocate
 Last update: November 25, 2023

A Distributed Denial of Service, often simplified as DDoS, is a cyber attack strategy. Here, multiple systems flood a targeted server, system, or network with traffic, causing overload. This causes the targeted server to slow down or completely crash, denying service to legitimate users. The attacker essentially aims to disrupt the service, restricting access for intended users.

Distributed Denial of Service Examples

1. Online Gaming Disruption

A DDoS attack can serve as a disruptive force in the online gaming world where competition is intense. In this scenario, a notorious gamer – possibly one who is determined on climbing the ranks or seeking revenge – might deploy a DDoS attack.

The targeted attack begins to create a torrent of internet traffic, meant to flood the gaming server when an important tournament is ongoing. As a consequence, the game becomes laggy and barely responsive, making it difficult for others to play effectively.

This gives the attacker a significant unfair advantage, disrupting the competitive balance of the game. Their competitors may even lose their connection to the game entirely, effectively knocked offline by the sheer intensity of the attack.

While victory might be achieved, this approach of gaining an advantage is frowned upon, considered underhanded, and could result in penalties if the culprit is discovered.

Stay One Step Ahead of Cyber Threats

Want to Be the Smartest Guy in the Room? Get the Latest Cybersecurity News and Insights.
We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe anytime.

2. E-commerce Site Interruption

In the competitive landscape of online business, a Distributed Denial of Service attack could be deployed as a sabotage technique. For example, during high-demand seasons like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, a company might face a sudden influx of internet traffic caused by a DDoS attack.

The attacker, likely a rival firm, seeks to overwhelm the targeted company’s website, causing either a considerable service slowdown or a total crash. The result: normal customers face significant barriers to access and carry out their shopping, with the website becoming unresponsive due to the overload.

This kind of attack could lead to a serious revenue dip for the targeted company, unable to service potential customers. It could also affect their reputation for reliability, pushing consumers towards competitors. It’s a harmful and unethical strategy, but unfortunately, one that has been implemented in various sectors before.

3. Political Sabotage

Political environments aren’t immune to Distributed Denial of Service attacks. In this context, the attack might target a critical government website or service. The attackers could be hostile entities, activists, or disgruntled groups seeking to disrupt the government’s online functions.

A crude, yet effective form of digital protest, the DDoS attack floods the government site with an enormous amount of traffic. This causes significant slowdowns or could bring down the site entirely. Consequently, ordinary citizens find it difficult or impossible to access important online resources and services.

In effect, the DDoS attack acts as a digital blockade, preventing the dissemination of information or the provision of online services. While it may succeed in causing momentary chaos and drawing attention to a cause, it can also cause extensive inconvenience to the public, making it a controversial course of action.


In essence, a Distributed Denial of Service attack is a digital weapon, capable of temporary disruption or complete shutdown of a targeted server. As seen from the examples, it can be misused in various contexts, from online gaming to e-commerce platforms, to even political spheres, making it a prevalent threat in our increasingly connected world.

Key Takeaways

  • A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is a cyber attack tactic, aiming to disrupt a server, system, or network by flooding it with excessive traffic.
  • Such attacks are often used in competitive online gaming to get an unfair advantage, by slowing down or knocking competitors offline.
  • DDoS attacks can also target e-commerce sites, causing a significant slowdown or crash, and hence affecting the company’s revenue and reputation.
  • A DDoS attack can be used as a political weapon too, targeting government websites to prevent citizens from accessing vital online services or information.
  • Despite their destructive potential, handling DDoS attacks effectively is a key component of any comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.

Related Questions

1. What is the main objective of a DDoS attack?

The main objective of a DDoS attack is to disrupt the normal functioning of a network, service, or server by overwhelming it with internet traffic. This disruption denies access to legitimate users, causing inconvenience, loss, or chaos.

2. Who is typically responsible for launching DDoS attacks?

DDoS attacks can be launched by a range of actors, including disgruntled individuals, rival companies seeking competitive advantage, online gamers, hackers, and even political or activist groups.

3. What kind of damage can a DDoS attack cause?

A DDoS attack can cause operational disruptions, financial loss from reduced business or compensation, damage to reputation, and in the case of government services, potential chaos and public inconvenience.

4. How can an organization protect itself from DDoS attacks?

Organizations can protect themselves through various practices like maintaining high-standard, diverse network resources, using specialized DDoS protection services, securing their network infrastructure with firewalls, and having a robust incident response plan in place.

5. Is a DDoS attack legal?

No, launching a DDoS attack is illegal, as it intentionally disrupts the normal functioning of a network or service. Depending on the jurisdiction, it may be treated as a criminal offense, punishable with imprisonment, fines, or both.

"Amateurs hack systems, professionals hack people."
-- Bruce Schneier, a renown computer security professional