how to tell if you are being ddosed

How to Tell If You Are Being DDoSED? 5 Possible Reasons to Explore

You may have experienced DDoS attacks on your website or are curious to be aware of them. DDoS, a short form of Distributed Denial of Service Attacks, happens when traffic from different places floods a website or online service. This makes it so real users can’t get to the website or use the service because it’s too busy handling the fake traffic. This destructive type of hacking attempt can slowly ruin your website! 

That’s why people and businesses need to know when a DDoS attack is happening so they can fix the problem and get things back to normal quickly. But, how to tell if you are being DDoSED? Let’s explore how to identify a DDoS attack, differentiate it from other types of cyber threats, and the immediate steps you can take to respond effectively.

Continue reading to learn more about DDoSing.

How does DDoSing Work?

As we know DDoSing a website is a method where multiple computer systems target a single website or online service. Essentially, this process involves overwhelming the target with requests. 

Think of it as trying to get through a door simultaneously with hundreds of others; nobody can get in, not because the door is locked, but because it’s too crowded. This is achieved through a network of compromised computers, a botnet, which acts upon command to bombard the website with traffic.

The consequences of such attacks can be significant. For websites, it might mean lost revenue, damaged reputation, and the cost of mitigation. And, for users like us, it means frustration, lack of access to services, and sometimes a compromise of personal data if the attack escalates. While the term and the technicalities might sound daunting, it’s essential to know that DDoSing is a real threat in the digital world. 

However, knowing about it empowers you to understand potential service disruptions. Moreover, it underlines the importance of cybersecurity measures for services you rely on, ensuring they can withstand or quickly recover from such attacks.

Which Services are Most Vulnerable to DDoS? 

How to Find Vulnerabilities in A Website- How to Tell If You Are Being DDoSED

In recent years, DDoSing has appeared on almost every type of website. According to NetsScout, In October 2022, a DDoS cyberattack targeted and disrupted numerous state government websites, affecting states like Connecticut, Colorado, Mississippi, and Kentucky.

i. Online retailers

Consider when a central online marketplace, like Amazon, becomes inaccessible during its Prime Day sale. This isn’t just about missing a deal; it’s about the massive revenue loss for sellers and the platform alongside customer dissatisfaction. DDoS attacks during peak shopping times can cripple these services, affecting millions of users and transactions.

ii. Financial services

Recall when PayPal experienced service disruptions due to DDoS attacks, impacting users worldwide who couldn’t access their accounts or make transactions. Such attacks disrupt personal finance management and erode trust in these platforms’ ability to safeguard financial assets.

iii. Gaming services

Imagine gamers cannot access their favorite online game, such as Fortnite, during a DDoS attack. This not only spoils the fun for countless players but also poses significant financial losses and reputational damage to gaming companies, highlighting the gaming industry’s vulnerability to such attacks.

iv. Educational platforms

Reflect on a scenario where a DDoS attack targets an online education platform like Coursera or Khan Academy right during exam season. Students might need help submitting assignments or accessing study materials, causing widespread frustration and potentially affecting academic progress.

v. Government websites

Consider a situation where the official website for tax submissions is hit by a DDoS attack just before the filing deadline. Access to crucial forms and submission portals would be blocked, causing panic among taxpayers and potential penalties for late submissions, underscoring the serious implications of attacks on government services.

5 Key Indicators to Recognize a DDoS Attack

While trying to understand DDoSing, knowing the signs of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack can be your first defense. Here are key indicators that you might be experiencing a DDoS attack. 

1. Unusually slow network performance

It’s a red flag when you notice websites or online services loading significantly slower than usual. This isn’t just about a minor delay; we’re talking about a drastic degradation in performance that affects various aspects of your online presence. 

This slowdown occurs because a DDoS attack floods your network with more requests than it can handle, consuming bandwidth and overwhelming resources. If this slowdown is sudden and unexplained by other factors like scheduled maintenance or known network issues, it’s time to investigate the possibility of a DDoS attack.

2. Unexpectedly high volume of traffic

A sudden spike in traffic is one of the most straightforward indicators of a DDoS attack. This differs from the typical increase in visitors that you might see from a successful marketing campaign or viral content. Instead, you’ll see an overwhelming surge from seemingly random IP addresses, often from countries or regions that don’t match your usual audience. 

This traffic is designed to saturate your network, preventing legitimate requests from being processed. Monitoring tools can help spot these spikes in real-time, allowing you to react quickly.

3. Excessive amount of spam emails

Receiving an unusually high volume of spam emails can be an indirect sign of an impending DDoS attack. Attackers might use this tactic to distract your IT team or to probe your network’s defenses. 

If you notice a flood of spam that coincides with other network irregularities, it’s prudent to consider the possibility of a DDoS attack. This tactic aims to divide your attention, making it easier for attackers to launch a more significant assault on your network.

4. Frequent timeouts

Experiencing frequent timeouts when trying to access your website, backend services, or during login attempts is a telltale sign of a DDoS attack. These interruptions occur because the server is too busy handling the flood of fake requests to process legitimate ones. 

Visitors will experience timeouts that are widespread and not limited to a single area of your site or service; it’s a strong indication that your network is under siege. Regular users might report these issues to customer service, so staying alert to feedback from your audience is a must.

5. Unexpected alerts from intrusion detection systems

Modern intrusion detection systems (IDS) and firewalls are equipped to detect abnormal traffic patterns indicative of cyberattacks, including DDoS. If you start receiving notifications or alerts about unusual traffic, taking them seriously is essential. 

These systems help by identifying the type of traffic and its source, offering clues that you’re under a DDoS attack. An increase in these alerts, significantly if correlated with other signs on this list, should prompt immediate investigation and action.

What Should You Do If You Identify a DDoS Attack on Your Website? 

If you are facing a DDoS attack, there are plenty of ways to defend and decrease any further damage to your website. 

a) Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or Hosting Provider

Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or Hosting Provider- How to Tell If You Are Being DDoSED

When you suspect a DDoS attack, your first move should be to contact your ISP or hosting provider. These entities have the tools and the expertise to help mitigate such attacks. 

Explain the situation clearly and provide any evidence or data that supports your suspicion. Your provider can then implement traffic filtering, increase bandwidth temporarily, or reroute traffic to minimize the attack’s impact. Remember, ISPs and hosting providers deal with these threats regularly and can be invaluable allies in defending against the attack.

b) Activate your incident response plan

If you have an incident response plan in place (and you should), now is the time to activate it. This plan is your playbook during a cybersecurity crisis. It should include contact information for key personnel, step-by-step procedures for mitigating attacks, and communication strategies for internal teams and external stakeholders.

Following your plan can help reduce panic and ensure a coordinated response to the attack. If you don’t have a plan, prioritize creating one after resolving the current situation.

c) Implement traffic filtering

Traffic filtering is crucial to mitigating a DDoS attack. This involves setting up rules or using tools to analyze incoming traffic and block those identified as malicious. Many ISPs and third-party services offer DDoS mitigation tools that can automatically detect and filter attack traffic. 

By implementing these measures, you can reduce the volume of attack traffic reaching your site, allowing legitimate user access to continue with minimal disruption. It’s a technical process, but your ISP or a cybersecurity service can guide you through the necessary steps.

d) Monitor your network

Continuous monitoring of your network is essential during and after a DDoS attack. Monitor traffic patterns, server loads, and any anomalies indicating an ongoing or secondary attack. Use network monitoring tools to track the effectiveness of your mitigation efforts and adjust as necessary. 

Monitoring can also provide valuable data for future defense planning, helping you understand the attack’s nature and identify its source. Stay vigilant, as attackers often change tactics or escalate their efforts in response to your defense measures.

e) Communicate effectively

Clear and timely communication is critical during a DDoS attack. Keep internal teams informed about the situation and what’s being done to resolve it. If the attack affects your users’ ability to access your site or services, consider communicating through social media, email, or your website to inform them of the issue and what you’re doing to address it. 

Transparency can help manage customer expectations and maintain trust during a crisis. Remember, the way you handle communication during an attack can significantly impact your reputation and customer relations.


Is DDoSing illegal everywhere?

DDoSing is considered illegal globally, with many countries having specific laws against it, such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in the United States, the Computer Misuse Act in the UK, and similar legislation in Australia and the European Union. 

These laws categorize DDoS attacks as criminal activities due to their intent to disrupt, disable, or overburden online services, leading to potentially severe economic and personal consequences for victims. Penalties for orchestrating DDoS attacks can range from fines to imprisonment, emphasizing the seriousness with which these cybercrimes are treated.

How bad is a DDoS attack?

The severity of a DDoS attack can vary greatly but often results in substantial financial losses, damaged reputations, and lost productivity for businesses. For high-profile websites, an attack can mean thousands, if not millions, of dollars in lost revenue for every minute of downtime. 

Beyond economic damage, DDoS attacks can erode trust among users and customers, leading to long-term reputational harm. Sometimes, they also serve as a smokescreen for more sinister cybercrimes, such as data breaches or theft.

How many DDoS attacks per day in 2023?

While exact figures can be difficult to pinpoint due to underreporting and the stealthy nature of some attacks, industry estimates suggest that the number of DDoS attacks in 2023 averages thousands per day globally. 

This reflects a worrying trend of increasing cyberattack volume and sophistication, driven by the expanding digital footprint of businesses and the proliferation of IoT devices, which can be co-opted into botnets to launch large-scale attacks.

Is DDoS similar to a virus?

While DDoS attacks and viruses are cyber threats, they operate differently. A virus is a malicious software that replicates itself to spread and infect computers, often damaging or stealing data. In contrast, a DDoS attack floods a network or service with so much traffic that it becomes overwhelmed and unable to function correctly. 

Unlike a virus, a DDoS attack does not involve infecting the target with malware but instead focuses on disrupting service availability.

Can VPN hide DDoS?

Using a VPN can provide a layer of defense against DDoS attacks by masking your IP address, making it more difficult for attackers to target your network or device directly. 

However, it’s not a complete solution. While a VPN can help protect individual devices from being directly attacked, if a DDoS attack targets a service or server you’re using, the VPN won’t prevent the service from being overwhelmed by traffic. 

The effectiveness of a VPN in mitigating DDoS attacks depends on the strength and configuration of the VPN service itself.

Safeguard Yourself from DDoS Attacks

DDoS attacks can be incredibly harmful for your website and business, and they can ruin your reputation over time in front of your visitors. 

By understanding these indicators, you’re better positioned to act swiftly, leveraging strategies like engaging with your ISP for support, applying traffic filtering techniques, and enhancing your overall cyber defense mechanisms.

Through vigilance and informed action, you can protect your digital presence against the challenges posed by DDoS attacks.

Have a wonderful day!

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