Is DDoSing Illegal?
Many active users of the internet may have wondered: How exactly do hackers break into networks and destroy them?
Today, no one is surprised to read the news about another server hack and data leak. We have been hearing such news for the last few years, and the one thing that really interests users is the question of how exactly hacking occurs.
You can find more interesting facts about famous hackers in this article.
In reality, everything is simpler than you may think. There are only a few ways to hack the network. And the most popular and most effective of them is a DDoS attack, or a “distributed denial of service” attack.
Previously, we’ve touched on the topic of such attacks. You can find all the information here.
Today, we’ll talk more about what is DDoSing and is DDoSing illegal or not.
What is a DDoS attack?
A DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack is a set of actions that can wholly or partially disable an internet resource. Almost any internet resource, such as a website, a game server, or a government resource, can be the victim.
At the moment, it is almost impossible for a hacker to organize a DDoS attack alone. In most cases, the attacker uses a network of computers infected with a virus. The virus allows the hacker the necessary remote access to the infected computer. A network of such computers is called a “botnet.” As a rule, there is a coordinating server in botnets.
Having decided to implement the attack, the attacker sends a command to the coordinating server, which signals each bot to start executing malicious network requests.
How does the attack work? (simple example)
Let’s say that your server hosts an online store that regularly serves customers. Of course, it can get into trouble if you didn’t prepare your resources in advance for possible traffic growth. If too many clients come to the site, it will become difficult for the server to respond to so many requests. It means that the site will start to slow down.
Note that this will not happen on a cloud server. In that case, you can immediately get the necessary additional capacity, and the server will easily process the increased number of requests.
But imagine that your store is hit not just by a flood of customers but by a real storm of requests — in such numbers that it is simply impossible to serve them. Then any site can stop responding altogether. Customers go to the page…and see only the spinning download icon. No pictures, no text — just a blank screen. Disappointed customers will leave to search for a similar store.
As it turns out later, hackers sent millions of requests per second to your server for many hours and paralyzed its ability to respond to them.
Such a barrage of requests is called a denial-of-service, hardware failure attack. And if it is not made from one computer but from many at once, then they say that this is a DDoS attack, a distributed denial-of-service attack that is accomplished by hardware failure.
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Two different types of DDoS attacks
The first type of DDoS attack is on the network itself and the network stack. The server is hit, for example, by numerous requests to establish a connection. The requests themselves may contain additional tricks, for example, coming from a non-existent address — this complicates the processing of incoming traffic. After some time, the server stops responding to connection attempts — its resources are 100% loaded.
The second type of DDoS attack is an application failure. Many sites contain complex and heavy functions — such as product catalog search or photo processing functions. By sending many requests, such as searching for a missing product from the database, hackers can completely overload the program on the server with unnecessary work. In this way, it will not be able to respond to other types of requests, for example customers will not be able to view catalogs or put products in their basket.
To carry out such an attack, a laptop is often enough — you only need to find “heavy” pieces of the program on the server and write your own program that generates thousands of requests to this “heavy place.”
You can find a list of the biggest DDoS attacks here.
How to conduct DDoS attacks
In the simplest case, as we found out, you need only a laptop to attack a site. In the case of more powerful servers, hackers rent DDoS servers in data centers with a dubious reputation and generate requests from there.
Another weapon in the hands of criminals is the botnet. Hacker groups infect ordinary computers and laptops with certain viruses, which, on command from the control center, make requests for the selected resource. Such infected computers form a network for generating toxic traffic. Some botnets consist of hundreds of thousands of computers. If each of them starts generating multiple requests to the attacked resource, it will simply be swept away. The power of the world’s most powerful botnets can not only put the store of a competitor out of action, but can even paralyze the internet in a small country.
Hackers are everywhere! Recently, they have hacked 150 public cameras. You can read more in this article.
Is DDoSing illegal?
The quickest answer is yes, it’s illegal. However, it is only illegal if it is committed without the victim’s knowledge. And it is illegal all over the world. Even though some countries do not have a separate law to regulate such attacks, they have still signed the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Therefore, any actions that have an impact across borders will be considered under the provisions of the convention.
Based on the experience of recent DDoS attacks, we can say that a hacker gets a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $500,000. Or both, depending on the severity of the crime.
The owners of the exploited devices that acted as bots can also sue the criminal.
However, anonymous users have claimed on the White House government website that this activity could be considered as political activism because it is very similar to the “Occupy” movement (which shut down various institutions by physically occupying their premises).
The DDoS phenomenon as an expression of peaceful protest
Today, the internet is spreading the idea that all DDoS attacks are an expression of peaceful protest.
Peaceful protest is an expression of disagreement with an event, situation, or policy of a particular state. It is the protest that is the highest degree of dissent against infringement of citizens’ rights or freedoms.
The Guardian, an authoritative publication, even wrote an interesting and very convincing article in which the issue of DDoS attacks as a protest is considered in more detail. In addition, concerned internet users created a petition to the White House, in which they called on the existing government to recognize DDoS as an online protest.
Due to the divergence of points of view on this issue, it may be worth considering each individual case of DDoS attacks in more detail. That is, to study in detail the motives of the hacker who committed this offense.
However, remember that a DDoS attack can cost you a full life outside the internet. Therefore, you should not take any risks, because in any case, such actions are illegal.