Imagine creating a group of computers that could all be used in a coordinated attack against one enemy. Stressers would perform that attack.
What Are IP Stressors?
Is your network capable of handling traffic from hundreds or thousands of computers without crashing? Can you handle a systemic attack against your servers? Stressors could answer that question.
Unfortunately, stressers can do something else altogether. A formal definition of a stressor is difficult to pin down. The person you ask, and the reason that person needs a stressor, can color the words chosen.
Ask a network administrator, and that person might tell you a stressor is a testing tool. That person needs equipment to run tests on an owned server. Those tests aren't possible without the help of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of computers. Each one is a stressor.
But ask a hacker, and stressors are commodities. They can be sold to someone who wants to launch a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. Each one is part of an army for hire.
How Do Stressers Work?
During a DDoS attack, a server is overwhelmed with illegitimate traffic that seems to come from everywhere at once. Stressers are the terminals used in such an attack.
Most servers will go down with just one gigabit per second of traffic. With DDoS booters, you could do even more damage. The bigger the network, the more chaos you can create.
A typical stresser works like this:
- Malware: A computer is infected via suspicious email or password hacking.
- Wait: The infected computer is inactive, but the program is just looking for further instructions.
- Attack: The moment arrives, and the computer executes commands from the hacker. The computer might ask for the same web page over and over again, or it might begin connection procedures and drop them (ping-of-death).
Most malware programs are difficult to trace. IP addresses are masked, so it's hard for the victim to trace the source. Sophisticated systems can make an attack seem like it's coming from everywhere all at once.
How Do Hackers Use Stressers?
Stressers are a form of DDoS botnets. A group of infected computers can turn on a source as programmed by a hacker. But some stressers seem to come from infected servers too, so they're even more powerful and sophisticated.
A hacker might use stressers in:
- Amplification attacks. An infected computer opens a conversation with a server, but the requests and the data they generate are immense. As the talk keeps going, the server can't handle this much data, and it crashes.
- Reflection attacks. Hackers use IP spoofing and send a request to a third party. That third party sends a response back to the victim, over and over again.
Hackers sublease infected computers to others, so they can run attacks on any target they select.
Can You Prevent DDoS Booter Attacks?
A hacker using these approaches hopes to take down your server, and sometimes, you're forced to pay some kind of ransom to make the problem go away. You'll stop a stresser-based attack just as you'd stop any DDoS attack.
Common approaches include:
- Using firewalls. Protecting your server at the edge can keep you from getting overwhelmed by invalid traffic. You can also use these tools to keep hackers from infiltrating your network.
- Deploying antivirus software. Run your programs regularly, and perform a manual scan at least once a week for deep cleaning. You could remove any malware on your device that could take over your computer.
- Monitoring activity. Watch your logs carefully, and be prepared to take action if something seems unusual. For example, if you notice endless pings that your system can't resolve, block the interaction immediately.
At Okta, we can help to strengthen your security. We can help you fend off such attacks before they even begin. Contact us to find out more.
The Largest and Famous DDOS Attacks of All Time. (September 2020). Analytics Insight.
5 Reasons You Should Run an Antivirus Scan at Least Once Each Week. (August 2020). Windows Central.