Orchestrating a denial of service (DoS) attack isn’t a simple task for an average user. There are multiple methods of carrying out a DoS attack. Anyone can be targeted—from your average individual user to the big names in the tech industry, such as Google. One of the most common methods is a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, which floods a targeted server or servers with so much traffic that the servers will exceed the bandwidth allotted to them by their web host and thus become unusable because they can no longer accept new connections. The majority of tech-savvy individuals have (or should have) installed anti-virus software and secured their networks to stop that kind of activity. However, DDoS attacks still happen despite the presence of anti-virus software and secured networks—and you might have inadvertently caused one.
How, you might ask? Your computer might be infected with malware. This opens up the probability of you and your computer being unwilling participants in a DDoS attack. You could have come across some links that you may think are legit—think you’ve won a free iPhone 5? That could be malware. Of course, it’s not completely your fault—malware takes on many shapes and forms, and companies who make anti-virus software also have the additional challenge of keeping up with the malware creators to counter their next move, which can be extremely difficult.
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) suggests that ISPs watch the point of entry into their networks, and even collaborate with third parties and even competitors to analyze where the malicious data is coming from. According to the IETF, their suggestions come down to the following: “Educate end-users of the threat posed by bots and of actions end-users can take to help prevent bot infections; detect bot activities or obtain information, including from credible third parties, on bot infections among their end-user base; notify end-users of suspected bot infections or help enable end-users to determine if they are potentially infected by bots; and provide information and resources, directly or by reference to other sources, to end-users to assist them in remediating bot infections.”
Of course, you should also watch your own computer—keep it up to date with the latest and greatest in anti-virus software as well as regularly installing updates as they become available.