How a Denial of Service Attack Is Carried Out Cloud Computing

Although the means to carry out, motives for, and targets of a DoS attack may vary, an attack generally consists of the concerted efforts of a person or people to prevent an Internet site or service from functioning efficiently or at all, temporarily or indefinitely. Perpetrators of DoS attacks typically target sites or services hosted on high-profile Web servers such as banks, credit card payment gateways, and even root nameservers. A DoS attack can be perpetrated in a number of ways. The five basic types of attack are:

  • Consumption of computational resources, such as bandwidth, disk space, or processor time
  • Disruption of configuration information, such as routing information
  • Disruption of state information, such as unsolicited resetting of TCP sessions
  • Disruption of physical network components
  • Obstructing the communication media between the intended users and the victim so that they can no longer communicate adequately

 A DoS attack may include execution of malware intended to:

  • Max out the processor’s usage, preventing any work from occurring
  • Trigger errors in the microcode of the machine
  • Trigger errors in the sequencing of instructions, so as to force the computer into an unstable state or lock-up
  • Exploit errors in the operating system, causing resource starvation and/or thrashing, i.e., to use up all available facilities so no real work can be accomplished
  • Crash the operating system itself

Generally, DoS attacks capitalize on the fact that the call is cheap (a laptop in Starbucks can easily issue 4,000 HTTP requests per second). If servicing the calls is resource intensive, 4,000 such calls per second can easily overwhelm the server.


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