In today's digital era, where our lives and businesses are increasingly intertwined with the online world, the threat of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks looms larger than ever. These covert yet devastating attacks aim to cripple websites and online services by flooding them with malicious traffic, rendering them inaccessible to legitimate users. 

What is DDoS Mitigation?

DDoS mitigation is a critical defense strategy that safeguards online services and websites from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. In today's digital landscape, where the internet is a cornerstone of business operations, understanding DDoS mitigation is paramount.

DDoS attacks involve malicious actors flooding a target website or online service with an overwhelming amount of traffic. The goal is to disrupt the service, making it unavailable to legitimate users. DDoS mitigation is the proactive effort to detect and mitigate these attacks, ensuring that essential online services remain accessible. Companies like RiskRecon by Mastercard are here to help ensure that DDoS mitigation is done effectively. 

How Do DDoS Attacks Work?

DDoS attacks operate on the principle of overwhelming a target's resources, rendering its online services inaccessible to legitimate users. To achieve this goal, malicious actors utilize a variety of techniques and mechanisms:

Botnets: The cornerstone of most DDoS attacks is a botnet, which is a network of compromised computers and devices under the control of an attacker. These devices, often referred to as "bots," can be anything from hijacked servers to home computers infected with malware. The attacker remotely commands these bots to generate and send traffic to the target.

Traffic Amplification: DDoS attackers often seek to amplify their attack traffic. One common method is UDP amplification, where small requests are sent to open servers on the internet, which then reply with much larger responses. Attackers spoof the source IP address, making it appear as if the target is the source of these requests. This results in a deluge of traffic overwhelming the target's infrastructure.

SYN Flood: In a SYN flood attack, the attacker sends a barrage of SYN (synchronization) packets to a target server, initiating a handshake process. However, the attacker never completes the handshake, leaving the target server waiting for connections that never materialize. This consumes server resources, preventing it from handling legitimate requests.

DNS Reflection: Attackers exploit open DNS servers to amplify their attacks. They send DNS queries to these servers with the target's IP address spoofed as the source. The DNS servers, unaware of the attack, respond to the target's IP with much larger responses, creating a traffic surge.

Application Layer Attacks: Some DDoS attacks target vulnerabilities within specific applications. For instance, HTTP-based DDoS attacks involve sending numerous HTTP requests that appear legitimate but are intended to exhaust server resources by forcing it to process complex requests.

Protocol Attacks: Attackers exploit weaknesses in network protocols, such as ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) or TCP (Transmission Control Protocol), to disrupt communication between servers. By overwhelming the target with excessive protocol requests, attackers can degrade the target's performance or even bring it down.

IoT Devices: Internet of Things (IoT) devices are increasingly being compromised and used in DDoS attacks due to their sheer numbers. Mirai botnet, for instance, leveraged compromised IoT devices to launch large-scale attacks.

Understanding the various techniques employed by DDoS attackers is essential for organizations seeking to defend against these threats. Effective mitigation strategies involve not only detecting and filtering malicious traffic but also preemptive measures to prevent devices from becoming part of a botnet in the first place.

Types of DDoS Attacks

DDoS attacks come in various forms, each with its own characteristics, techniques, and impact. Understanding the different DDoS attacks is essential for comprehending the diversity of malicious activity and threats that organizations may face:

Volumetric Attacks: These attacks focus on overwhelming a target's network bandwidth with an enormous volume of traffic. Attackers utilize botnets to generate a deluge of data packets directed at the target's servers and network infrastructure. The sheer volume of incoming traffic can saturate network connections, making the targeted online service slow or entirely unresponsive.

Application Layer Attacks: Unlike volumetric attacks, application layer attacks specifically target vulnerabilities within the application itself. These attacks aim to exploit the resources and processing capabilities of the web server. Common techniques include sending a multitude of seemingly legitimate HTTP requests, forcing the server to allocate resources to process them. This can exhaust server resources and lead to service degradation.

Protocol Attacks: In protocol attacks, malicious actors exploit vulnerabilities in network protocols to disrupt communication between servers. For example, an attacker may flood a target server with a high volume of SYN-ACK packets, overloading its capacity to establish new connections. As a result, legitimate users are unable to establish connections, leading to service unavailability.

Reflective and Amplification Attacks: These attacks involve using intermediary systems to amplify the attack traffic. DNS Reflection and NTP (Network Time Protocol) Reflection are common examples. Attackers send small requests with the target's IP address spoofed as the source to open servers on the internet. These servers then respond with larger responses, effectively multiplying the volume of traffic directed at the target.

Smurf Attack: This type of DDoS attack takes advantage of ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) to amplify the attack. Attackers send ICMP Echo Requests to broadcast addresses, which are then reflected off multiple systems, amplifying the traffic sent to the target.

Slowloris Attack: Slowloris is a stealthy application layer attack. It involves opening multiple connections to a web server and sending partial HTTP requests, deliberately keeping the connections open. This consumes server resources as it waits for the incomplete requests to complete, ultimately leading to a server overload and service disruption.

DNS Flood: In DNS flood attacks, attackers overwhelm DNS servers with a massive number of requests, causing them to become unresponsive. This not only disrupts DNS services but can also impact the overall functionality of websites and online services that rely on DNS for domain resolution.

The Importance of DDoS Mitigation

The consequences of not having adequate DDoS mitigation can be severe. Downtime leads to loss of revenue, damage to reputation, and can even result in legal ramifications. DDoS attacks can be used as a smokescreen for other cyber threats, making swift and effective mitigation crucial for overall cybersecurity.

DDoS Mitigation Techniques

Several techniques and technologies are employed to counter DDoS attacks:

Traffic Filtering: DDoS traffic is identified and filtered out, allowing legitimate traffic to reach its destination.

Rate Limiting: Limiting the rate of incoming traffic helps mitigate the impact of DDoS attacks.

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs): CDNs distribute traffic across multiple servers, reducing the load on any single server and helping mitigate DDoS attacks.

Understanding these techniques is essential for organizations looking to implement robust mitigation strategies.

Choosing the Right DDoS Mitigation Solution

Selecting the appropriate DDoS mitigation solution is crucial for an organization's cybersecurity posture. Factors to consider include…

Budget: The cost of the solution should align with the organization's financial resources.

Scalability: The solution should accommodate the organization's growth and increased traffic.

Effectiveness: Evaluate the solution's track record in mitigating various types of DDoS attacks.

By carefully considering these factors, organizations can make informed decisions about the most suitable DDoS mitigation solution for their needs.


The bottom line is that DDoS mitigation is a vital component of modern cybersecurity. Understanding what DDoS attacks are, how they work, and the available DDoS attack mitigation techniques is essential for safeguarding online services and businesses. The consequences of neglecting DDoS protection can be severe, making it imperative to invest in robust mitigation solutions. By choosing the right DDoS mitigation solution, organizations can ensure the continued availability and security of their online assets.

And our RiskReconThreat Protection solution is specifically designed to keep your systems and data secure. If you are ready to better safeguard your assets, request a demo today!