These days, it seems you can’t venture anywhere on the web without threats lurking around every corner. And each day, you hear about a new data breach, virus, or some other threat to your security and data online.
When will the madness end? Well, probably never. As long as people are sharing sensitive information on the Internet (such as Social Security numbers and payment data), hackers will try to take advantage.
Still, there’s one type of online threat that many people have never heard of, but that’s been gaining traction over the last several years. It’s the DDoS attack—and anybody with a server, website, or even an email address could be at risk.
What is a DDoS Attack?
Specifically, DDoS stands for “distributed denial of service.” In simplest terms, a DDoS attack aims to slow down a server or crash it altogether by essentially flooding it with fake web traffic. These types of attacks can wreak serious havoc, especially on websites that rely on steady uptime to generate revenue through direct eCommerce sales or even ads. In fact, one study has found that major server outages for the top five eCommerce sites in the United States total about $3.5 million per hour.
Unfortunately, DDoS attacks have grown not only in their frequency, but their size as well. Attacks of several hundred gigabytes per second are no longer uncommon, rendering some “DDoS protection” software unable to keep up. Meanwhile, it seems that nobody is safe from the threat of a DDoS attack; from major corporations to small non-profits and everything in between, attackers will target any and all vulnerabilities.
How to Protect Yourself
With all this in mind, what can you do to be proactive against DDoS attacks? While there’s no way to guarantee you’ll never fall victim to an attack on your site or server, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk.
Start by making sure you’re using a server or hosting platform with build-in safeguards against these kinds of attacks. Many hosting companies offer DDoS protection as part of their hosting packages. If you can upgrade your protection to guard against even larger attacks, do so.
Meanwhile, be aware of the signs of a DDoS attack. Most often, victims of DDoS attacks will notice problems accessing their website. The site may be slow to load or it may fail to load altogether. In other cases, you may still be able to access your own site, but you may receive reports from others that they cannot or that the site is loading very slowly. If this occurs, you’ll want to contact your hosting company as soon as possible so they can look into it further.
Don’t Become a Victim
Hopefully, you never have to worry about a DDoS attack causing downtime on your server or website. Unfortunately, these attacks are becoming a very real threat across the web. By being aware of what DDoS attacks entail, you can better protect yourself!
It has become a major movie cliche: the computer hacker who, typing furiously under great pressure, needs only a few more seconds to break into “the mainframe.” Something akin to a superhero, the nerdy but attractive character at the keyboard accomplished the impossible, bypassing all necessary security walls in the nick of time.
This scenario certainly is exciting, but it is the type of thing that only happens on the film or TV screen, right? Read on for five unbelievable computer hacking incidents that seem too incredible to be true.
1. The 1995 Citibank Hack
Before Russian software programmer Vladimir Levin hacked into the New York IT system of Citibank in 1995, few industry experts would have thought such an attack possible. Sitting comfortably in his St. Petersburg apartment, Levin authorized a series of fraudulent banking transactions that drew a total of roughly $10 million from individual accounts around the world. Both Citibank and the FBI fortunately tracked many of the transactions, and Levin was extradited to the US, where he served three years in prison.
2. The 2000 MafiaBoy Hack
When MafiaBoy (the screen name of Canadian teenager name Michael Calce) hacked some of the top sites on the internet in 2000, people simply couldn’t believe that he could pull off such a coordinated attack at just 15 years of age. Using a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) approach, he overwhelmed the IT networks of Amazon, CNN, eBay, Yahoo, eTrade, and Dell, resulting in financial losses estimated at $1.2 billion. When he was caught, MafiaBoy admitted that he did it simply to impress his fellow hackers.
3. The 2004 Delta Airlines Hack
Another teenage hacker, German Sven Jaschan brought down the entire IT system of Delta Airlines, among those of other large corporate entities, as an 18-year-old college student. An innovator in the hacker world, Jaschan allegedly coded the Sasser worm. Famous among IT experts for affecting Microsoft Windows, this self-replicating and self-distributing computer virus successfully infected tens of millions of computers that span the globe. attacked vulnerable Microsoft Windows operating systems.
4. 2010 Marriott International Hack
One of the most unusual cyberattacks in history, this extortion attempt doubled as a search for employment. Hungarian citizen Attila Nemeth infected the security firm Marriott International with a malicious virus and then threatened further damage if they didn’t give him a job. Marriott responded to Nemeth with a fake employee account and the promise of work. After receiving forms of personal identification that include his passport and resume, the company passed the information to the US Secret Service.
5. The 2014 iCloud Celebrity Hacks
In what was certainly one of the most salacious of all hacking incidents, a team of hackers in various US locations used phishing techniques to gain access to the Apple iCloud accounts of numerous A-list Hollywood celebrities including Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence. After releasing private photos and videos (some of which contained nudity), two affiliated hackers were sentenced to roughly a year in prison.
Cybersecurity is on many people’s minds these days. It is also one of the fastest-growing industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in this field are growing at a much faster pace than average. What does it take to become a cybersecurity expert?
Get an Entry-Level Job
You have to decide how you will develop the knowledge and skills to master cybersecurity. Work experience is crucial and often the key to meeting the requirements of critical advanced certifications that will mean better opportunities in this industry.
Since cybersecurity companies are facing a labor shortage, now is an excellent time to try for that entry-level position that will train you and pay you at the same time. You will need to go to the job interview with plenty of knowledge, though. If you are not in a place where you can go back to school, then self-study using the internet. This may give you just enough information to get your foot in the door.
Get a Certificate
Some starter certifications you can take will give you enough to get an entry-level job. Many have no experience prerequisites, too, so you can take them even if you don’t work in the tech industry.
Some examples of starter certificates include:
- Microsoft Technology Associate Security Fundamentals – For just a little over one hundred dollars, you can learn core security principles and some other basic security concepts. To earn the certificate, you must pass an exam.
- ISACA CSX Cybersecurity Fundamentals Certificate – CSX is recognized for some of its advanced certifications, but they also offer a fundamentals course. There are no prerequisites for this course, but you must pass a 2-hour exam to get the certificate. It costs less than two hundred dollars.
- CompTIA Security+ – The Security+ course helps you establish core knowledge regarding cybersecurity. The course has the approval of the U.S. Department of Defense, possibly making you eligible for an entry-level government job. That bonus means the course costs a little more. You’ll pay 381 dollars to take the exam.
All three of these are self-paced self-study courses. Once you think you know the information, you take an exam. If you pass, you earn the certification. You could also opt to go to college for a two or four-year degree in information systems or network security.
Get a Specialty
Cybersecurity is a broad term that includes many types of expertise. For example, you could be the person who designs secure networks or stays up to date on trends in hacking. You could also test the various connections looking for intruders.
Each path is significant, but they can be different, too. You get to the expert level faster if you pick one instead of trying to learn everything at once.