DDoS Attack: What It Means

On Monday, there was much talk about how the United States was possibly under a DDoS attack. The speculation emerged after users reported outages on T-Mobile, Instagram, and several other sites and services. While experts have since said that there is likely nothing to worry about regarding this issue, the whole matter still might have left you wondering what a DDoS attack actually means.

According to Cloudflare, a web-infrastructure and website-security company, a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is an attempt to disrupt the traffic on a standard server, network or service by overwhelming the chosen target with an abundance of Internet traffic. For an individual or group to implement a DDoS attack, they utilize multiple compromised computer systems as sources of attack traffic. Cloudflare likened a DDoS attack to a traffic jam clogging up the highway, preventing regular traffic from being able to arrive at its chosen destination. The company also shared that the goal of one of these attacks would be to exhaust the resources of the target.

There was plenty of talk about a possible DDoS attack on Monday after numerous outages were reported across services such as T-Mobile and Instagram. Even though there was talk about these outages being indicative of a DDoS attack against the United States, many experts have said that that does not appear to be the case. Matthew Prince, the co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare, wrote that the reality of this matter is that T-Mobile was having an issue with its network on Monday, which consequently led others to believe that there was a much larger problem going on.

In a Twitter thread, Prince explained that this whole dilemma ties back to T-Mobile. He shared that the company was making changes to its network configurations today and that it went "badly," leading to failures for users across the board. He went on to write that from Cloudflare's vantage point, there are a "number of things that show there is no massive DDoS attack." Prince also stressed that there have been no anomalies reported at nearly every other major Internet service.

On Monday evening, Neville Ray, the president of technology for T-Mobile, did acknowledge that the service was experiencing a wide variety of issues. He subsequently released a statement on Twitter in which he wrote that they were trying to remedy the issue as soon as possible. Ray wrote, "Teams continue to work as quickly as possible to fix the voice & messaging problems some are seeing. Data services are now available [and] some calls are completing. Alternate services like WhatsApp, Signal, iMessage, Facetime etc. are available. Thanks for your patience."