HTTP Flood Attack

A HTTP flood attack is similar to a DDoS attack where the intention is to halt a specific server by repeatedly targeting it with HTTP requests.

What is an HTTP flood attack?

An HTTP flood attack is a volume-based type of an attack designed to send DDoS post requests to the targeted server with the means to overload it with HTTP requests. Once the target has been heaped with HTTP requests and is unable to respond to the normal traffic, a denial of service occurs for additional requests from actual users.

These HTTP flooding attacks often rely on a botnet that is a set of internet-connected computers that have been integrated with a malicious virus through the use of malware such as Trojan horse.

what is http flood attack

How does an HTTP flood attack work?

HTTP flood attack is level 7 of the OSI layer. Layer 7 is the application layer of the model that refers to internet protocols such as HTTP. HTTP is used to receive and send browser requests, commonly used to load web pages or fill online forms over the internet.

Reducing application layer attacks is a bit complex since it becomes difficult to differentiate between normal and malicious user traffic. To be competent enough to achieve maximum efficiency, attackers will create botnets to make the most significant impact of their attack.

By using devices infected with malicious malware, an attacker can take advantage of the situation by launching a heap of traffic on the intended victim.

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Categories of HTTP Flood Attacks

HTTP Get attack: In this form of attack, many devices are combined to request or images, files, or some other media from a targeted server. When the target receives the requests and keeps on receiving from multiple sources, as a result, leads to a DDoS flood attack.

  • HTTP Get attack: In this form of attack, many devices are combined to request or images, files, or some other media from a targeted server. When the target receives the requests and keeps on receiving from multiple sources, as a result, leads to a DDoS flood attack.
  • HTTP post-attack: Generally, when a user fills in an online form and submits it on the browser, the server must handle the HTTP request and lead it to a persistence layer, most commonly the database. The procedure to handle data submission and executing commands on the database is far more intensive compared to the amount of processing power required to send an HTTP post request. This attack utilizes resource power consumption by sending many HTTP requests to the web server, and as a consequence, and HTTP DDoS attack occurs until its capacity becomes saturated.

Signs of an HTTP Flood Attack

These types of DDoS attacks are designed to cause the targeted victim with overwhelmed HTTP requests by allocating most power consumption into producing a denial of service attack on a system or network. The attack aims to flood the server with as many process-intensive requests as possible.

HTTP post requests are mostly used since it involves higher server-side resource consumption. While HTTP attacks are easier to produce, thus leading to botnet attacks to achieve the maximum disruption.

why https attack dangerous

Why is the HTTP flood attack dangerous?

Because they use the standard URL requests, distinguished normal traffic from malicious traffic is next to impossible. Because they don’t rely on reflection or spoofing techniques, thus makes it challenging to identify the infected traffic.

And since they require a much lower bandwidth than brute force attacks, they can often shadow themselves while simultaneously bring down the entire server. HTTP flooding attacks are intentionally designed for the specific target, making it much harder to uncover or block them.

Concluding, it can be quite disastrous for any victim machine to face an HTTP flood which he did not intend to do or wasn’t aware of, thus leading to an overloaded server that is trapped to receive normal traffic.

However, the most highly recommended mitigation technique to prevent DDoS floods is through profiling methods, for instance, identifying UP reputation, monitoring abnormal user activity and adopting progressive security challenges.

Many firms use special automated software to analyze all incoming network traffic through which they can identify and classify all incoming web traffic. For instance, Imperva’s web application protection aims to identify all botnets to prevent HTTP flood attacks by analyzing malicious bot traffic and protecting against all level 7 application-layer attacks.

why http flood attack is dangerous

How to Mitigate Http Flood Attack?

As aforementioned above, mitigating HTTP flood attack can be quite a complex and intensive task and often multifaceted. One method involves implementing a task to identify the victim machine if it’s a bot or not, similar to a captcha test that asks you whether you are a robot or not. By giving a prerequisite such as a JavaScript challenge, reducing the risk of an HTTP flood occurring.

Other techniques to stop HTTP flood DDoS attack is to implement a web application firewall, managing the reputation and popularity of an IP address to identify it as an authentic source of traffic and selectively block all malicious traffic. Having a wide advantage of various internet properties allow firms to analyze web traffic and mitigate potential attacks by implementing web application firewalls to eliminate application-level DDoS attacks.

how to mitigate http flood attack