Posted by: on October 27, 2016 at 11:37 am

If you tried to access some of your favorite web sites last Friday, you might have had a hard time. A massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack affected hundreds of popular web sites including power players like The New York Times, Amazon, and Twitter.

What’s a DDoS Attack?
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Imagine all these people knocking on your door.

Imagine your front door. Normally, your sister knocks on it; you answer the door. No problem. Now imagine your entire city is knocking on your door. Tens or even hundreds of thousands of people, all knocking at the same time. You can’t answer them all. You can’t get that package you were expecting. Now your sister can’t even get close to your house.

That’s kind of what a DDoS attack is like. Instead of the usual traffic to a web site, the site is overwhelmed by a massive amount of data transmissions.

Last Friday’s attack was unique because it wasn’t against an individual site like Twitter or Etsy (which does happen occasionally), but the attackers went after a background company, Dyn, that provides technology these sites run on. Taking out Dyn’s network denied legitimate access to the thousands of companies they serve.

What Does My Coffee Maker Have to Do With It?

Well, maybe not your particular coffeemaker. But a key factor in the attack was unsecured wirelessly-controlled devices, also known as “Internet-of-Things” or IoT devices. Tens of millions of unprotected IoT devices, including wireless cameras, routers, and, yes, even home appliances were infected with a virus that allowed the attackers to use them to all send bits of data at the same time and overwhelm the target.

Devices used in this kind of attack almost universally do not require a password or force users to change the default password. (Tip: Change the default password whenever possible on your wireless devices so you aren’t part of the problem.)

How Can a DDoS Attack Affect My Business?

There are two main ways a DDoS attack can affect your business:

  1. As a direct victim. If your web site, ordering system, or other online system is targeted, legitimate customers may not be able to place orders or get the information they need until the attack is mitigated.
  2. Your own server may run slowly and/or sporadically. If your vendors are crippled by a DDoS attack, it may be harder for you to place orders or get other work done. Have non-Internet workaround whenever possible.

It’s important to note that a DDoS attack isn’t inherently dangerous. It doesn’t directly try to access your company data or inject viruses or other malware. The main loss is direct revenue plus the time and money spent to defeat the attack.

How Can I Protect My Business?

A proactive managed service provider that handles your computer network is one of the best ways to defend against a DDoS attack. When one of our clients was targeted this way, we were able to track down the problem and coordinate with their internet provider to defeat the attack. Click over to our Services tab to learn more about how TAZ Networks can take care of your computer network, so you can take care of your business.

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