Is DDOS Illegal? Everything You Need to Know About DDOSing

Due to the increasing threat of cybercrimes, including DDoS attacks, many countries and jurisdictions now have laws under which DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service Attacks are illegal). So, it is always wise to stay secure in this cyber world and protect yourselves. Is DDoS illegal in your country? Follow the article and know the answer to this question.

  • In the US, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) may consider a DDoS attack as a federal crime, with imprisonments as the potential penalty. Quite recently, in June 2020, a man was sentenced to five years in federal prison with more than $520,000 in restitution for a DDoS attack in January 2015 on Leagle.Com. 
  • In the UK, the Computer Misuse Act of 1990 also makes it illegal not only to perform DDoS but to intentionally impair the operation of a computer or prevent access to a program if you are unauthorized to do so. Supplying or obtaining botnet services to facilitate DDoS attacks is also illegal in the UK. 
  • Is DDoS illegal in European countries? Various European countries consider that vomiting DDoS attacks may lead to arrest, at the barest minimum. In January 2019, the Europol announced that there’s an ongoing worldwide operation to track down the users of webstresser.org (a DDoS-for-hire marketplace.)

The question is- Is DDoS illegal? Many countries consider DDoS as a cybercrime which is taken very seriously, and a DDoS perpetrator would face at the bare minimum the following consequences: 

  1. Having your computers confiscated
  2. Internet access limited or restricted
  3. Arrest
  4. A significant prison sentence 
  5. A criminal record, which could significantly affect your future

DDoS as a cybercrime can also cause severe damages that can be long-term or even permanent. We have discussed few of them below. 

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Impacts of DDoS Attacks

Now, since you know the answer to the question- Is DDoS illegal, let’s dive in to the next section. DDoS attacks can be so severe and can impact various elements of the business from time. And, money to long-term reputation damages, making you lose clients even permanently. Depending on the magnitude of the attack, DDoS can slow down. And, even entirely halt the activity of a website for less than 24 hours, multiple days, and even weeks. A DDoS attack in 2018 lasted for 329 hours, almost two whole weeks, and around 20% of all DDoS attacks can last for more than 24 hours. 

DDoS attack
DDoS attack

Is DDoS illegal for e-commerce sites? How about financial damage? During the attack, staff and employees can’t access the website and server’s resources at all. This can significantly impact the business if it relies on cloud-based solutions. And, when the email ties to the network. In eCommerce sites, a DDoS attack can translate to a complete halt of revenue. According to Kaspersky, DDoS attacks can cost over $120,000 in damages for small businesses and over $2 million for enterprises per attack

Is DDoS illegal for eCommerce?

Now that you know the answer to the question- “Is DDos illegal for eCommerce”?, let’s move to next section. Another important consideration is the impact on botnet computers that are used to launch the attacks without their consent. A DDoS attack typically utilizes exploited machines (from computers to IoT devices) that malware infects (typically trojan viruses). This can eat the infected device’s resources. And, while it might not wholly halt the device’s activity, it can significantly slow down the system. Even if the device can remain operational, it might not respond well to the user’s needs. 

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How does a DDoS Attack Work?

In this article “Is DDoS illegal?’, we are also going to talk about how a DDoS works. In general, most cyberattacks affect three potential areas: confidentiality (i.e., data privacy), integrity (or trustworthiness), and availability. A DDoS attack typically targets the latter: availability, but can also affect integrity and confidentiality (although in most cases, not directly). 

working of DDoS attack
working of DDoS attack

Even worse, A DDoS attack can be a doorway or even camouflage for other, more severe attacks. During a DDoS attack, it’s common for companies to place all the IT and security resources into the attack attempt. During this time, the cybercriminals can exploit other weaknesses on your system. And, launch a more severe attack like a data breach. 

Another thing to keep in mind that DDoS is the timing of the attack. It’s quite often the perpetrator will aim for the time when the website/service is the busiest. Before the holiday sales for eCommerce sites, for example, in 2018, Amazon was affected by a DDoS attack on its Prime Day. This is typically the time where the business is busy with something else. And, at the same time, a successful attack can cause very significant damage.

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Differentiating Legitimate Traffic and DDoS Attack

Is DDoS illegal and why is it so tough to detect it? A common reason why a DDoS attack went undetected before it’s too late is that a DDoS attack can be so sophisticated. It’s challenging to differentiate it from legitimate traffic. 

traffic on website
traffic on website

So, how can we tell that the site is experiencing a healthy increase in traffic and showing up on top pages of Google or if it is a DDoS attack? How can we know if it’s a DDoS attack and not activity from non-malicious bots (or malicious bots that are attempting something other than a DDoS attack)?

This is where having proper behavioral DDoS detection and prevention software like DataDome can help to recognize malicious activities from legitimate traffic correctly, and effectively filter out the malicious traffic and harmful bot activities. 

DDoS detection
DDoS detection

It’s important to note that while your site can go down due to a significant spike in legitimate traffic, typically the time frame will be relatively short before the site goes back to normal. 

However, today’s sophisticated DDoS perpetrators can attempt to DDoS the website for only a short while to ‘mimic’ this phenomenon. For example, the DDoS might only involve several hundreds of requests per day, slowing down or even making the site offline for just a few seconds. So, this can be challenging if you don’t have a proper detection system to analyze traffic behavior. And, even short and mild DDoS attacks like this can hurt the website’s reputation and reliability in the long run. 

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Conclusion

Is DDoS illegal? Well, you have the answer to it now. In most countries all around the world. As we’ve discussed above, the impact of a DDoS attack can be very significant. And, even can cause permanent damage to the website’s reputation and credibility. This is why having a proper detection and mitigation measure is very important. Nowadays, considering the severity of the risk, you must ensure security online and take care of all these parameters. 

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