Over the last decade, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks have flooded websites and servers that the world depends on. However, in time this issue plaguing the internet can be mitigated, particularly through Accumulate’s identity-first blockchain.
Topics covered in this post include:
- Why DDoS attacks are an issue
- Some famous DDoS attacks that have happened before
- Statistics that show they are on the rise
- How blockchains are affected by them
- The added benefit of anchoring on Accumulate
What Is A DDoS Attack?
A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is a type of cyberattack where a hacker overwhelms a server with artificial traffic, making it difficult or impossible for normal users to visit the site. You can think of DDoS as a coordinated traffic jam. Normally, your ability to access a website is like driving down a highway – there are other cars on the road, but they don’t prevent you from getting where you are going.
With a DDoS attack, a hacker transforms that normal web traffic into rush hour traffic. The hacker, with the help of armies of bots, sends so much traffic to the website it creates the cyber equivalent of bumper-to-bumper traffic – blocking normal access to the site for hours or even days.
As these attacks look like normal web traffic, it is difficult to develop effective measures to combat them. Many of the solutions cybersecurity experts have invented are less than ideal and also impact their business’s bottom line. You’ve almost certainly been asked if you are a human or a robot when signing into a website.
Famous DDoS Attacks And Their Financial Implications
DDoS attacks are becoming increasingly common. Cisco estimated that there will be 15 million DDoS attacks annually by 2023. Even tech titans like Amazon are not immune to DDoS attacks. A client using Amazon Web Services, the most popular cloud service provider in the world that is responsible for hosting 40% of Ethereum nodes, was taken offline for 3 days by a DDoS attack in 2020. Since a single hour with a server offline can cost a company anywhere from $300,000-$1,000,000 – this attack had severe financial repercussions.
Speaking of financial implications, in 2012 six major banks were taken offline by repeated waves of DDoS attacks. Citibank, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, Bank of America, and more were taken down by the assault. Millions of Americans were unable to access their bank accounts due to the cyber attack and it had severe consequences for businesses across the country.
DDOS Attacks Don’t Have to be Inevitable
You don’t have to be a giant corporation to suffer from DDoS attacks. Most of the 15 million annual attacks are targeted towards smaller businesses with less robust cybersecurity. Blockchains can also be hit with DDoS attacks.
Solana was taken offline at least twice by DDoS attacks. During one of these outages, which lasted 17 hours, Solana saw its network traffic and value diminish. The low cost of transactions on the Solana blockchain, normally a big benefit, allowed these attacks to occur. Solana can normally process 65,000 transactions a second, but hackers were sending upwards of 400,000 transactions a second across the chain – causing a backup that made normal operations impossible. Since this has happened to Solana more than once, some people speculate that Solana’s underlying cryptography may be flawed. To be fair, the Solana main net is still technically in beta mode.
Measures can be taken for blockchains to mitigate against DDoS attacks. This is primarily due to the decentralized nature of blockchains. When there is one central server, it is easier to overwhelm it with traffic. When requests from the attack are distributed across a decentralized blockchain, a DDoS attack is less likely to create enough traffic to shut down an entire chain.
Accumulate’s architecture has measures in place to mitigate against these attacks.
How Accumulate Can Mitigate DDoS Attacks
Accumulate was designed with security and verifiable identity in mind. The Accumulate blockchain can mitigate DDoS attacks because, rather than existing as a single contiguous blockchain, Accumulate is best conceptualized as a network of networks. Each of these networks has its own security and bandwidth and attacking all of them is much harder than attacking a single network.
Additionally, Accumulate requires fees to come from a signator, which makes identifying attackers easier.
How Accumulate aims to mitigate DDoS attack attempts:
- 1) Accumulate uses a two token system where we have ACME and Credits. Credits provide security features and usability features. They also allow the network to better identify attackers. Attackers can still hide, but it is much more expensive and complicated.
- 2) Accumulate is a Network of Networks. As Accumulate grows, more networks will be added, and the responsibilities for ADIs distributed over the networks. An attack that brings down some of the network will not bring down the whole network. And bringing a bit of the network back up is rather straight forward.
For additional security against DDoS attacks and other threats, Accumulate uses a cryptosecurity technique called anchoring. Anchoring is how Accumulate ties the networks together to create Accumulate’s Network of Networks. The Backbone of Accumulate is the Directory Validator Network (DVN). It accepts anchors from the Block Validator Nodes (BVNs) and constructs the blocks for Accumulate. Users cannot send transactions to the DVN, so it is much harder to target with a DDOS. As long as the DVN keeps running, the BVNs can come back online and continue operations without losing data or state.
Anchoring on Accumulate’s Blockchain
Anchoring in blockchain refers to when hashes from a private chain are embedded into a public chain so that the private chain can receive some of the advantages of the main chain while maintaining its sense of independent security. In other words, anchoring is beneficial because it minimizes vulnerability to 51% attacks by anchoring to other Layer 1 blockchains. Accumulate anchors to other blockchains like Bitcoin that have very high PoW security. This applies Bitcoin’s security to the historical record of Accumulate. External anchors ensure that an attack does not alter the history of the Accumulate blockchain.
On Accumulate, the anchor chain is a Merkle tree maintained by the Blockchain Validator Network (BVN). There is an anchor collected any time that an account changes on a block. On Accumulate, the blockchain creates a summary hash of the entire network every second.
The main benefit of anchoring is that it allows you to buy the security of a larger and more secure blockchain but only pay for a single transaction.
With anchoring, both blockchains would need to be compromised by a DDoS to take both chains offline. Statistically speaking, this is a highly unlikely event given the robustness of the top Layer 1 protocols’ security and the additional security benefits that Accumulate offers.
Anchoring was an innovation invented by Factom – which will soon upgrade to Accumulate. The cybersecurity innovations pioneered by Factom were capable enough to land Factom multiple government contracts, including with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy. These contracts speak volumes to the level of enterprises that trust the design of the blockchain, which is being significantly more improved under Accumulate.
The Accumulate team has a wide range of innovative tools to use to increase security and resilience to attacks. Accumulate is dedicated to make the most secure, performant blockchain for DApps, Enterprise, and your mom and pop.