If your favorite web page is uncharacteristically slow, the connection drops, or you’re unable to even reach it, then there’s a good chance that it’s suffering a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack.
DDoS attacks try to take down websites or entire networks by overwhelming them with traffic from thousands of infected computers, collectively known as a botnet. Banks, news sites, and even governmental sites are the main targets of DDoS attacks, which then make the sites unavailable to users. And since both the target and the computers being used in the botnet are victims, individual users become collateral damage in the attack, their PCs slowing down or crashing while unwittingly working for the hacker.
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Why do DDoS attacks exist?
DDoS attacks aren’t usually aimed at individual users, but target high-profile web servers such as banks, credit card payment gateways, and government sites. Hackers organizing a DDoS attack can be motivated by anything ranging from financial gain, revenge, or simply a desire to “troll”. In an attack, the targeted websites shut down and their online services become unavailable to individual users, who then lose trust or patience with the organization and possibly take their business elsewhere. This results in loss of revenue as well as damage to an organization’s reputation.
How do you recognize a DDoS attack?
A successful DDoS attack is easy to recognize, but hard to prevent. When a network is suddenly overwhelmed with persistent web traffic that lasts days, weeks, or even months and becomes unresponsive to the everyday user, it’s very likely a DDoS attack. It’s a bit harder to recognize when your PC has been ‘enlisted’ into a botnet: however, if it suddenly starts acting slow, displaying error messages, or crashing at random, there’s a good chance it’s currently in a botnet.
How to prevent a DDoS attack?
Protecting against a DDoS attack is impossible for everyday users, as only the admin of the website can know of sudden, unexpected spikes in traffic and take action to counter this. Individuals can do their part by having a powerful antivirus installed that can catch and remove the malware that enslaves a PC into a botnet, so that their own computers won’t slow down, crash, or be used to attack others.
How to avoid being in a botnet
Be sure to protect your computer with a strong antivirus
Don’t download unknown software to your computer that might harbor a virus
Be on the lookout if your PC starts acting strangely or slowing down
Protect yourself against a DDoS attack
Since DDoS attacks rarely attack individuals, you’re not likely to find your personal network overwhelmed by a botnet. Still, it’s good to ensure your PC hasn’t been forced to do the bidding of a hacker and therefore, we recommend you install a powerful, lightweight antivirus that’s used and trusted by 400 million users around the world, like Avast.