What is an Application Layer Attack?
Application layer DDoS attacks are aimed to attack an application itself. They target particular vulnerabilities, which eventually result in the application not being able to work as intended and deliver content to the user.
Application layer attacks are designed to attack specific applications. They thrive on issues and loopholes, which can cause mass destruction to a network/application. The most common form of attacks are on web servers but can include any application such as SIP, VoIP, and BGP.
How Do Application Layer DDoS Attacks Work?
Application-level attacks have become very common in the world of cyber attackers. They necessarily represent an advance level of attack, kind of like Special Force’s analogy, in that they’re tough to detect, they frequently seem initially legitimate, and their focus usually is not on volume but small, highly skilled or highly complex attack sequences.
Nevertheless, even though they’re small and non-volumetric, they’re as effective as any other volume-based attack is essentially rendering your business down or disrupted, otherwise disrupted.
What Are the Signs of an Application Layer DDoS Attack?
Application-level attacks are attacking layers 5 through 7 in the OSI stack, both across the board, so these are things like: FTP, SMTP, HTTP, and HTTPS – the encrypted form of HTTP. Not to forget, TLS from the SMTP encrypted form, as well as some business-critical VoIP applications or really anything that you might be using.
These are all application-layer attacks, so you have to be able to detect on an application-level attack, all your protocols that you’re using horizontally and then vertically within the application itself, all the problems that might arise within that application-level stack.
For example, most notably, is on HTTP – it has a whole plethora of known vulnerabilities. Each one of those needs to have an ability for you to quickly detect that there is a potential attack going on that may disrupt your business.
These are things like sessions, connections, concurrent connections, injections like L dap or Ajax, or the infamous sequel injection as well as input parameters, brute force attacks, and all sorts of other attacks.
Why Are Application Layer DDoS Attacks Dangerous?
In today’s digital era, nearly all of our processes take place online. From speaking via the internet to online shopping, the use of the internet has escalated over the last decade. As more and more people adopt the use of the internet in their daily lifestyle, criminals have shifted their focus towards the cyberspace.
These days, cybercriminals are regularly enhancing their hacking tools and eagerly spotting loopholes for new application layer attack techniques. With IoT devices now becoming more prevalent than ever, hackers have now gained access to millions of vulnerable IoT devices through which they can launch complex DDoS attacks at scales that have never been witnessed.
That’s not the worrying aspect of this hazard. What makes an application layer attack most dangerous is that even when multi-vector attacks contain identifiable patterns, a nefarious cybercriminal will take their time and observe the results of their attack. Then, they’ll use their analysis to modify it to dodge any robust mechanism or highly skilled defender.
You may ask: how does that work?
Since present-day attackers are agile, they frequently revise payload patterns to evade necessary DDoS mitigation. This makes the constant tracking of known attack patterns unpractical due to scale issues and the increasing rate at which tracking/monitoring must be updated.
Additionally, payload patterns tend to bring hazardous concerns, making it unwise to maintain them.
How to Minimize and Prevent Application Layer DDoS Attacks
It’s no doubt that DDoS attacks tend to be complicated. What needs to be considered is that no average cybercriminals will carry out such an intensive kind of attack.
This goes to show that a determined attacker will swiftly alter the attack vector to escape mitigation. You should use a set of methods to examine and stop these kinds of attacks as earliest as possible.
Here are the best ways to protect your digital existence against never-ending, regularly sprouting forms of denial of service attacks:
- Use flow telemetry analysis supplemented with behavioral analysis to detect abnormalities and attacks. Focus on understanding what is normal. This will simplify the identification of abnormalities.
- Use an IDMS to detect abnormal behavior and application layer attacks that require advanced and active mitigation, and using this approach in conjunction with BGP FlowSpec Offload when and where appropriate.
The successful implementation of these would go a long way in securing your digital existence against DDoS attacks/Application Layer Attacks.
Learn more about DDoS protection.
By using these DDoS protection techniques, cybercriminals will be forced to perform like regular clients. This will make the DDoS attacker ineffective, rendering their DDoS attack of no use/threat.