Dos vs DDoS: Learn the Difference


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In the current situation of covid-19, most of the organizations are operating virtually, and their employees are working from home. This gives a perfect opportunity for the attackers to execute cyber attacks, which is why the number of cyber attacks has grown recently. A cyber magazine report says that the number of DOS attacks is expected to be about 14.5 million by 2022, which is pretty huge in number. A denial of service attack can cost a small organization 120K dollars and nearly 2 million dollars for bigger organizations, and it will also lead to loss of reputation.  In a few industries, such as online gaming and gambling, denial of service and DDoS attacks are very common these days.  In this article, I will discuss Dos and DDoS attacks and how they are different from each other. Let me briefly explain the two first.

What is Dos?

Dos Stands for denial of service.  It is a cyber attack in which the user is not able to access the information system devices or network resources due to malicious actions by a cyber threat actor. This attack overwhelms the physical resources or the service’s network connections getting attacked, which ultimately prevents users from accessing it. The motive of the attack is to deny normal, legitimate service requests and user access. The most common way of this attack is to flood the victim with heavy traffic so that all the resources get consumed, and the victim could not handle the requests further, resulting in a denial of service. It will look like the service is running slow or it is disconnected. This attack is common for websites, but any individual can also be a victim of a denial of service attack.  Denial of service attack has a huge impact on an organization’s cost, resulting in both time and money consumption while the service is inaccessible.

What is DDoS?

DDoS stands for distributed denial of service. It works similar to a denial of service attack, but the difference here is, in DDoS, the attacker launches the attack using multiple systems. Such kinds of attacks are used for large-scale attack operations. The attacker uses multiple systems to attack a single target system with malicious traffic. With multiple systems, it is easier for the attacker to take down the system offline. A DDoS attack is faster than a denial-of-service attack and also very difficult to trace. 


Here is a real-life DDoS attack that happened in the past. Its victim was Amazon Web Services, a subsidiary of Amazon that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms. Amazon stated that AWS shield observed and mitigated a 2.3 terabits per second DDoS attack In the month of February 2020. AWS Shield is a managed DDoS protection service by Amazon that is responsible for safeguarding applications running on AWS. Hijack CLDAB web servers were used to execute the attack and the AWS Shield was affected by three days of elevated threat. The peak volume traffic of the DDoS attack was of 2.3 terabits per second, which is the largest ever recorded. This attack made AWS lose millions of dollars. 

Now let me tell you the differences between Dos and DDoS attacks.

Dos vs DDoS: Learn the differences

Attack Source

Denial of service attack uses a single system to attack on the victim, whereas a distributed denial of service attack uses multiple systems or a network of devices to gain control of the victim. 


Because a DDoS attack is executed from multiple locations, it can be deployed faster on the victim’s system, whereas a Dos attack occurs from a single location and the speed of the attack is slower.


The execution type of both denial of service and DDoS attacks are different. In a denial of service attack, the attacker uses a Dos tool or a script to execute the attack. Whereas in the DDOS attacks,  that attacker uses botnets or a network of devices to take down a system.


Since the attacker uses a single system in a denial of service attack, it is easier to detect. In contrast, in a distributed denial of service attack, multiple systems’ usage makes it difficult to detect such attacks.

Traffic Volume

The traffic volume used in a DDOS attack is much higher than a Dos attack. The higher traffic volume is used to overload the server rapidly. Such high traffic volume in a DDos attack is generated by botnets.


Here is a table that tells you the differences between Dos and DDoS attacks.


Parameter Dos Attack DDoS Attack
Full Form Denial of Service Distributed Denial of Service
Attack Source Single system Multiple systems running remotely at multiple locations
Threat Level Low High
Detection Easy Hard
Traffic Volume Low High
Malware Involvement No malware involved Botnets (malware) are used
Attack Speed Slow Fast
Management Easy to operate and manage Not easy to operate and manage
Cost Low High

DoS and DoS Attacks Why Do They Happen?

There are many reasons an attacker might want to shut down a business, regardless of whether it’s a DoS attack or DDoS attack. We’ll be looking at the most common reasons DoS attacks are used against enterprises. These are some of the most common reasons why DoS attacks are used to attack enterprises:

  • Ransom – This is the most common reason DDoS attacks are carried out. After an attack is completed successfully, attackers will demand ransom money to stop the attack and bring the network back online. These ransoms are not recommended as there is no guarantee that the business can be fully restored.
  • Malicious Competitors- Malicious competitors who are looking to shut down a business can also cause DDoS attacks. A competitor may try to take your customers away by taking down an enterprise’s network. This is especially common in the online gambling industry, where rivals will attempt to take your customers away to gain a competitive advantage.
  • Hacktivism – Hacktivism is a form of hacktivism in which the motivation behind an attack may not be financial, but personal or political. Hacktivist groups often take down government and enterprise websites to show their opposition. Hacktivists can do this for whatever reason they feel is important, but it often happens because of political motives.
  • Causing trouble – Many hackers enjoy causing problems for their network and personal users. Cyber attackers love to take down organizations. It’s no secret. DDoS attacks are a popular way for attackers to play pranks on people. These attacks are often seen as ‘victimless’, which is unfortunate considering the cost of a successful attack.
  • Disgruntled Employees- This is another common reason for cyberattacks. A DDoS attack against your company can be a powerful way to take back control if the employee has a grievance. Although most employees deal with grievances well, there is still a small percentage who will use DDoS attacks to harm an organization they are unhappy about.

How to Prevent DoS Attacks and DDoS Attacks

DOS attacks pose a constant threat to modern businesses. However, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself from these attacks. It is important to realize that you can’t prevent all DoS attacks. However, you can minimize the damage from any successful attack.

Three things are necessary to minimize the damage from incoming attacks:

  • Preemptive measures
  • Test Run DOS Attacks
  • Post-attack Response

Network monitoring and other preventive measures are designed to identify potential attacks before they occur. They also act as a barrier against being attacked. You can also test run DoS attacks to refine your strategy and test your defenses. The post-attack response is what will determine the extent of damage done by a DoS attack. It’s a strategy to get your company back online after an attack.

What are the cost implications of DoS and DDoS Attacks?

The cost implications of DOS attacks and DDOS attacks on companies can be huge. While attacks to some companies may only cost a few dollars or others could result in a loss of millions, attacks on other companies can have devastating consequences for their businesses. However, smaller companies might feel the effects more than larger ones. They could cause serious damage to your clients, which is a far more frightening cost.

Sometimes, DDOS and DOS attacks can be used as distractions in order to hide a breach. If this happens and the breach succeeds, then thousands of client’s personal information could be at stake.

Final Thoughts

That was all about Dos and DDoS attacks. I hope you are now clear with the differences between Dos and DDoS. The denial of service attacks are simpler and easy to tackle, but a DDoS attack can really do some heavy damage to any organization’s business. I would suggest taking cybersecurity expert help and stay safer from these cyber attacks.


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