L7 DDoS attack

What is a L7 (Layer 7) DDoS Attack?

One type of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is known as Application Layer or L7 DDoS attack. This type of attack uses vulnerabilities in Internet-facing applications to forcibly create massive amounts of bad traffic. As opposed to the more common Layer 3 DDoS attacks, which use brute force bandwidth to overwhelm a network connection, Layer 7 attacks rely on vulnerabilities in Internet-facing applications, such as HTTP, to create an overwhelming amount of bad traffic. 

To do this, the attacker needs to be able to send requests to and from the Internet. 

  • A Layer 7 DDoS attack is when a hacker sends requests to and from the Internet. 
  • This type of attack targets the application layer and can overwhelm an entire web server or network by saturating it with requests. 
  • A Layer 7 DDoS attack is much more difficult to defend against than Layer 3 and 4 attacks. 
  • This makes it possible for a DDoS attacker to completely overwhelm network resources and Web application infrastructure without any real cost. 

How does a Layer 7 DDoS attack work? 

Layer 7 DDoS attacks are a type of volumetric attack that relies on bandwidth and CPU to overwhelm web servers and bring them to their knees. L7 DDoS protection is designed to protect against this type of attack. 

A common example of an L7 DDoS attack would be sending 10,000 emails from a single source, but each email has a very specific and targeted header. 

This attack would be much more difficult to defend against than an L3 and L4 attack. 

What are some of the ways a Layer 7 DDoS attack can be implemented? 

In a Layer 7 DDoS attack, a device is used to target a resource by protocol, instead of just a single IP address. This makes it harder for a server or service to block the attack because they can’t stop the attack at the gate. The attacker may try to exploit a vulnerability in the service’s software. 

For example, a resource that has a bug in its anti-XSS code may be vulnerable to an XSS attack. 

  • An attacker might try to exhaust resources at the server or service by flooding it with requests. 
  • A hacker may seek to exploit known vulnerabilities in a vulnerable server or service. The attacker can use these vulnerabilities to direct the traffic from their device to the target. 
  • To do this, the attacker must be on the same network as the Internet-facing server that they want to attack. 
  • In most cases, the attacker’s server cannot be on the same network as the legitimate server. 

What is Layer 7 protection? 

Layer 7 protection is a type of software that protects the computer from malicious activity on the internet. Layer 7 DDoS attacks are for when the attacker’s goal is to disrupt the server’s availability. 

Because a Layer 7 DDoS attack takes place at the application layer, it is extremely difficult to detect and stop. Many of these attacks can become very large, often exceeding 10 gigabits per second (Gbps). 

How do you stop an L7 DDoS? 

Layer 7 DDoS attacks, also known as L7 DDoS, are a form of Denial-of-Service attack that attacks the transport layer of the TCP/IP stack. Layer 7 DDoS attacks overload the protocol processing engine by sending high volumes of invalid requests to the system. 

The only way to protect against Layer 7 DDoS attacks is to invest in software that can detect and then filter out all illegitimate requests. 

Layer 7 DDoS attacks are also called DNS amplification, IP hijacking, and proxy server attacks. 

In July 2015, the largest Layer 7 DDoS attack occurred, lasting over three days and sending over 9 million messages per second. This attack used more than 100 malicious computers to form a botnet, known as a zombie army. 

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