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A denial-of-service attack (DoS attack) or distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack) is an attempt to make a computer resource unavailable to its intended users, though it is not necessarily malware. They are usually sent by hackers. Although the means to carry out, motives for, and targets of a DoS attack may vary, it generally consists of the concerted efforts of a person or persons to prevent an Internet site or service from functioning efficiently or at all, temporarily or indefinitely. Perpetrators of DoS attacks typically target sites or services hosted on high-profile web servers such as banks, credit card payment gateways, and even root nameservers. An example is the Mydoom worm.
One tool that hackers use for launching DDoS attacks is LOIC (Low Orbit Ion Cannon).
One common method of attack involves saturating the target (victim) machine with external communications requests, such that it cannot respond to legitimate traffic, or responds so slowly as to be rendered effectively unavailable. In general terms, DoS attacks are implemented by either forcing the targeted computer(s) to reset, or consuming its resources so that it can no longer provide its intended service or obstructing the communication media between the intended users and the victim so that they can no longer communicate adequately.
Denial-of-service attacks are considered violations of the IAB's Internet Proper Use Policy. They also commonly constitute violations of the laws of individual nations.<ref>Phillip Boyle (2000). "SANS Institute - Intrusion Detection FAQ: Distributed Denial of Service Attack Tools: n/a". SANS Institute. Retrieved on May 2 2008.</ref>
- W3C The World Wide Web Security FAQ
- cert.org CERT's Guide to DoS attacks.
- ATLAS Summary Report - Real-time global report of DDoS attacks.
- linuxsecurity.com An article on preventing DDoS attacks.
- Is Your PC a Zombie?, About.com.