For businesses and website owners alike, the consequences of a successful DDoS attack are easy to imagine. Excruciating site downtime, angry users, blowback on social media, a sense of distrust over a business or website’s ability to protect those users from cyberthreats, eroded user loyalty, and all the loss of traffic and revenue that accompanies those things, in the short-term as well as the long-term. Yep, hideous.
Immediately following that list may not seem like the best time to let you know there are consequences to a DDoS attack you probably haven’t even thought of it, but in the interest of preventing the obvious and non-obvious consequences of a DDoS attack alike, it must be done.
A DDoS attack is a distributed denial of service attack, one that’s been designed to keep users from being able to access a website or online service. This is accomplished using a botnet – a zombie army of devices infected with malware that can be controlled remotely. Attackers use a botnet to direct large amounts of malicious traffic at a target with the aim of either taking it offline or using up so many resources there aren’t enough left to provide adequate site performance for legitimate users.
Thanks to DDoS for hire services, both professional attackers and the average angry Joe can get in on the DDoS action, which makes DDoS protection a must for businesses and websites of all sizes hoping to prevent the consequences of a successful attack, both the obvious ones listed above and the non-obvious ones listed below.
The big non-obvious DDoS consequence: data breaches
Here it is, the shortcut to combining two of your security nightmares. If you don’t have a managed DDoS mitigation provider that means your IT and security employees will be the ones dealing with a DDoS attack. As you would expect…and as an attacker would expect as well.
For this reason, DDoS attacks are often used as smokescreens or distractions for other types of cyberattacks including data breaches and other serious intrusions. Your staff could very well be too busy to notice anything else amiss beyond the giant downtime-causing DDoS attack, and the fallout from that could be devastating.
The other big non-obvious DDoS consequence: operations interrupted
When a business’s network or a back-end server gets smashed with attack traffic, it isn’t just public-facing websites that go down. Internal services and applications can be impacted, meaning operations will likely grind to a halt.
The possible ripple effects of backend servers being unavailable are immense depending on the type of business being impacted. Think of how many business processes depend on information or communications that can only be accessed online. Even in-store sales can be impacted if point-of-sale systems can’t access an inventory database. It may not get your business screamed at by a bunch of angry millennials on Twitter, but internal outages can be just as problematic as public-facing ones.
Your marketing budget blown: useless AdWords
Many businesses have a careful marketing spend, and many businesses with a careful marketing spend put good money into Google AdWords. What happens if you pay to put your ad at the top of a competitive search term and people click on it while your site is down because of a DDoS attack?
In short, that money you pay per click is wasted, and those people who tried to access your site roll their eyes at what appears to be your inability to keep a website online and move on to a competitor. Not a great use of your marketing budget.
Your entire budget blown: massive bandwidth bills
Network-layer DDoS attacks are designed to chew up bandwidth like they’re at the Wing Bowl in Philadelphia. For website owners and organizations that pay a flat rate for their bandwidth, this surprising consequence of a DDoS attack will not apply. For websites and organizations that are billed for their usage, however, a distributed denial of service attack can lead to crippling bandwidth bills. A group fighting against web censorship in China was famously hit with a $30,000 bandwidth bill after a prolonged and possibly state-sponsored attack. To avoid a nasty surprise when it comes time to pay the bandwidth bill, be sure to look into how exactly you’re billed. Oh, and get that DDoS protection.
Insult to injury
It may have seemed impossible, but these surprising consequences of a DDoS attack manage to take these attacks from very bad to even worse, efficiently and effectively adding insult to injury. It’s highly recommended that you avoid dealing with either the expected consequences of an attack or the unexpected consequences by investing in professional DDoS protection. Better safe than sorry and then sorry again when you experience all the other terrible things that happen during downtime.