Most of the cyber attacks that catch the attention of the news are privacy attacks where personal information from users is stolen for use on the dark web.
But there is another type of attack that is more of a statement than a theft, with an aim simply to slow access to a website down, or in some cases bring the site down completely.
These types of attacks, called Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, are extremely common and occur daily on almost every public website.
Most are fended off before they cause real problems, and those that do succeed are time-limited.
The way a DDoS application layer attack works is relatively simple on the surface.
When a user logs into a service like Gmail, there is a lot of computing that goes on behind the scenes to identify and validate who you are.
Cyberattacks using DDoS simply flood open channels for users with millions or even hundreds of millions of requests simultaneously from a variety of requesting servers using bots.
A recent attack on several companies exploited the HTTP/2 Rapid Reset feature which allows webpages to load more quickly.
Bots would find pages that utilized this feature and then flood these pages with millions of requests per second.
Web hosting software would then be unable to sort out malicious requests from real requests and the page or pages affected would not be able to load.
Google recorded one incident in which 398 million requests were sent to its site in one second.
This increase is no doubt aided by cyberattackers using more sophisticated technology likely including AI.
While large tech firms have been mostly successful in fending off these attacks many companies are less prepared for what lies ahead.
A report by Qrator Labs estimates that DDoS attacks have risen by 40% in 2023 and those seeking to cause chaos are just getting started.