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What is a Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack?

A DoS attack is when a someone tries to stop users from accessing information or services on their own PC or computer network. An attack may stop a user from accessing their email, websites, online accounts such as banking, etc., or software on the affected computer.

Most commonly, an attacker will “flood” a network with information to bring it down. When you enter a URL into your browser, you are actually sending a request to that website’s computer server to view the page. That website’s server can only process a certain number of requests at any one time. A DoS attack involves an attacker overloading that server with so many requests that it can’t process yours, effectively “denying you service” because you can’t access the website.

Similarly, an attacker can use spam emails to DoS attack your email account. Regardless of who provides your email account, your employer or a free service like Hotmail or Gmail, you’re given a quota that limits the amount of data you can have in your email account at any one time. By inundating the account with emails, or by sending large email with lots of data, the attacker can fill the quota on the email account, effectively preventing you from receiving any legitimate emails.

What is a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attack?

Basically, an attacker uses your computer to DoS attack other computers. Through vulnerabilities and weaknesses in your computer’s security, the attacker can force your computer to send the massive amounts of data or spam to another email account or web server. It’s a “Distributed DoS” attack because you’re computer is being used to distribute, or spread the DoS to someone else.

Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself against DoS or DDoS attacks:

  •  Install and maintain an up-to-date anti-virus software
  • Install a firewall and configure it to restrict traffic to and from your computer
  • Follow security best-practices for your email accounts and apply filters to help you manage unwanted emails.

How can you tell if an attack is happening?

There are many reasons your service could be interrupted on a PC. There could be problems with the network, or your system administrators could be performing updates and maintenance. With that in mind, here are some signs that could mean you’re under attack:

  •  Slow network performance. Unusually long loading times when opening files or accessing websites.
  • Loss of access. Cannot access one particular website or any external websites. Cannot access your own files on your computer or network.
  • A sudden, marked increase in the amount of spam sent to your email accounts.

What do I do if I think I’m under attack?

Don’t wait until you’re a victim to protect yourself from hackers. We can safeguard your business network or PC from harm before it happens. Contact us today and request an audit of your business technology. Our technical professionals have a deep understanding of cyber security and will be able to keep your business data safe.
If you suspect you’re already under a DoS or DDoS attack, let us know. We’ll stop the attacker in their tracks and prevent further damage. We’ll also review vulnerabilities and weak-points in your network to prevent future compromise.