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Do VPNs Stop and Prevent DDoS Attacks? (Final Answer)

does vpn prevent ddos

When gaming or managing a website, you may face sudden floods of internet traffic trying to take you offline – these are DDoS attacks. A VPN can be a critical tool to help shield you from these disruptions. But does a VPN really stop DDoS attacks? How effective are they?

In this article, we’ll explore how VPNs can be used to prevent DDoS attacks, ensuring your online activities run smoothly and without interruption.

Best VPNs to Stop DDoS Attacks

  1. NordVPN – the best overall VPN for DDoS protection
  2. Surfshark – great anti-DDoS protection VPN service with unlimited connections
  3. AtlasVPN – includes a free, but limited version for personal DDoS prevention

Check out other anti-DDoS VPNs.

Do VPNs Stop DDoS Attacks?

VPNs can stop DDoS attacks, but their effectiveness depends on how they’re set up and the strength of the attack. When you use a VPN, your real IP address is hidden and the data you send and receive is encrypted. This makes it harder for attackers to target your actual internet connection. Instead, they target the VPN server.

Good VPN providers have robust servers designed to absorb and mitigate DDoS attacks. They distribute traffic across multiple servers, which can diffuse the impact of the attack. 

However, if a DDoS attack is powerful enough, it might overwhelm even a VPN server. If the VPN server itself goes down, so does your connection. But, in many cases, the VPN server can withstand attacks that would otherwise disable a home network connection.

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What Is a DDoS Attack?

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is a cyber-attack where multiple systems target a single system with a flood of internet traffic. This overload prevents legitimate users from accessing the service.

DDoS attacks exploit the capacity limits of a network, server, or website. The attackers use a network of compromised computers, called a botnet, to send massive amounts of data requests. This causes the targeted system to slow down significantly or crash, denying service to intended users.

DDoS attack graphics

What are DDoS Attack Statistics?

DDoS attacks are not rare. Their frequency and sophistication have increased over the years. According to NetScout, 7.9M DDOS Attacks were recorded in the first half of 2024.

Some DDoS attacks have reached speeds of over 1 Tbps, which can cripple even well-prepared servers. The financial and reputational damage to businesses and individuals can be substantial.

What is the Difference between DoS and DDoS attacks?

While both DoS (Denial of Service) and DDoS attacks aim to disrupt service, the main difference lies in their scale and mechanism.

A DoS attack originates from a single source, making it easier to detect and block. On the other hand, a DDoS attack comes from multiple sources simultaneously, making it much more difficult to manage.

Because DDoS traffic comes from many different points on the internet, simply blocking a single source is not effective. DDoS attacks, therefore, are generally larger, more disruptive, and require more complex mitigation strategies compared to DoS attacks.

FeatureDoS AttackDDoS Attack
Source of AttackSingle sourceMultiple sources, botnet
ScaleLimited to the attacking machine’s capabilityPotentially very large, capacity of many machines
Ease of DefenseEasier to defend, can be blockedMore difficult to defend against
DurationOften short-lived due to quick detectionCan last very long
ImpactTypically minor impactCauses widespread disruption, very impactful
MitigationBasic firewall rulesRequires advanced strategies and tools

How Do DDoS Attacks Work?

DDoS attacks work by overwhelming a target with a massive amount of data, which is more than the target can handle. This is done by creating a network of infected computers, known as a botnet.

Each botnet can include thousands of compromised devices connected to the internet, such as PCs, servers, and even IoT devices. The attacker takes control of this botnet and directs it to send requests to the target simultaneously.

The flood of requests overwhelms the target’s bandwidth or its system resources like CPU and memory, causing a slowdown or complete service outage. The target might be a website, an online service, a network, or even specific infrastructure within a network.

Since the attack traffic is distributed across many points of origin, it is challenging to distinguish malicious traffic from legitimate traffic. The target, therefore, struggles to identify and stop the attack quickly.

Types of DDoS Attacks

DDoS attacks take different forms:

  1. Volumetric Attacks: The most common form, floods the network with excessive amounts of traffic to saturate bandwidth.
  2. Protocol Attacks: Targets the network layer or transport layer with a focus on exploiting server resources.
  3. Application Layer Attacks: Targets the top layer of the OSI model, aiming to crash a web server.
  4. Fragmentation Attacks: Sends fragmented packets to the target, causing the server to reassemble these fragments in an ineffective way that consumes its resources.
  5. Amplification Attacks: Uses the network’s amplification factor to multiply the attack traffic.

Each type of attack has its unique characteristics and requires specific methods to mitigate.

Who Performs DDoS Attacks?

DDoS attacks can be carried out by various actors:

  • Cybercriminals: Seeking financial gain by taking businesses offline and demanding a ransom.
  • Hacktivists: Motivated by political or social objectives, aiming to draw attention to their cause.
  • Competitors: Engaging in corporate sabotage to disrupt a rival’s operations.
  • Disgruntled Individuals: With a personal vendetta against a company or service.
  • State-Sponsored Actors: Governments can sponsor these attacks as part of cyber warfare tactics.

The motivations can vary widely, but all share the common goal of disrupting service to a target for some advantage or statement.

Are DDoS Attacks Legal?

DDoS attacks are illegal under many international laws. They are considered a destructive cyber threat against individuals, businesses, and governments. Carrying out a DDoS attack is a criminal offense in most countries and can lead to prosecution and severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment. Being convicted of orchestrating or participating in a DDoS attack can result in serious legal consequences.

How do you know if you’ve been DDoSed?

Signs you may have been DDoSed include:

  • Unusually slow network performance.
  • A sudden inability to access a website or service.
  • An overwhelming amount of spam emails.
  • Internet disconnection that is not explained by service provider issues.

If you witness these symptoms and can rule out common problems like a faulty router or regular internet service provider (ISP) outage, you may be experiencing a DDoS attack.

What To Do if You’re Being DDoSed?

If you are being DDoSed:

  1. Identify the Attack: Quickly determine if the abnormality in service is indeed a DDoS attack.
  2. Notify Your ISP: Contact your ISP immediately. They may help mitigate the attack by re-routing traffic.
  3. Activate Mitigation Measures: If you have a DDoS mitigation service in place, engage it.
  4. Preserve Logs: Keep detailed logs of all related activities. They might be useful for any legal action or forensic analysis.

How to Stop a DDoS Attack

To stop a DDoS attack:

  1. Overprovision Bandwidth: Having more bandwidth than you typically need can help absorb the traffic surge.
  2. Use anti-DDoS Hardware and Software: These tools can identify and filter out malicious traffic.
  3. Reduce Attack Surface: Disconnect unnecessary services and ports to reduce vulnerabilities.
  4. Deploy a Cloud-Based Protection Service: Such services can absorb large amounts of traffic and can be scaled up according to the attack size.
  5. Implement Strong Security Measures: Regularly update systems, enforce strong passwords, and educate staff about security practices.
  6. Create a Response Plan: Have a comprehensive incident response strategy ready for quick deployment in the event of an attack.

The easiest way to stop a DDoS attack on your personal device is to use a VPN.

Here’s how:

  1. Subscribe to a good anti-DDoS VPN like NordVPN.
  2. Download and install the VPN app on your device.
  3. Use the VPN app to connect to a VPN server.
  4. All DDoS attacks will now target the VPN server instead of your device.
  5. Turn on the Kill Switch to keep your IP address private all the time.
NordVPN kill switch setting

How DDoS and VPNs Affect Gaming

DDoS attacks can significantly disrupt online gaming experiences. They can cause game servers to lag or crash, resulting in dropped connections and uncontrollable in-game characters. For competitive gamers, such an attack could mean the difference between winning and losing a match. Moreover, being targeted directly by a DDoS can lead to a temporary or permanent ban from gaming services if your account is mistakenly seen as the attack source.

VPNs can aid gamers by masking their IP addresses, making it harder for attackers to target their network connections directly. By routing the internet connection through a VPN server, gamers can hide their actual location and IP address.

In the event of a DDoS attack, the VPN server absorbs the brunt of the traffic, helping to maintain a stable and continuous gaming experience. However, using VPNs might introduce latency, which can affect gaming performance.

How To Prevent DDoS Attacks

To prevent DDoS attacks:

  1. Secure Network Infrastructure: Use firewalls, switches, and routers that can withstand and filter out DDoS traffic.
  2. Install Anti-DDoS Software: Employ software solutions that can detect and repel DDoS attacks.
  3. Monitoring and Response: Continuously monitor your network traffic for anomalies and have a response plan ready.
  4. Scrubbing Services: Subscribe to services that can clean your incoming traffic by separating malicious packets from legitimate ones.
  5. Use Content Delivery Networks (CDNs): CDNs can distribute your traffic across various locations, making it harder for a DDoS attack to impact your site’s performance.
  6. Keep Your Systems Updated: Patch and update all systems to minimize vulnerabilities.
  7. Educate and Train Staff: Ensure that all employees are aware of the risks and know how to respond to a DDoS threat.
  8. VPN Protection: For individuals, particularly gamers, using a VPN can provide an additional layer of protection by obscuring the real IP address.

When VPN DDoS Protection Doesn’t Work for You?

If the gaming server you’re playing on is being DDoS-ed instead of you, using an anti-DDoS VPN won’t help. The VPN will only hide your IP address, not the gaming server’s IP. So it can only protect you from a DDoS attack.

The only way for the gaming server to avoid getting DDoS-ed is for the admins to use anti-DDoS protection. Alternatively, you should game on a different server that’s not being DDoS-ed – and ideally has anti-DDoS protection.


Can You Be DDoS-ed with a VPN?

Yes, you can still be DDoS-ed while using a VPN. The VPN server itself can be targeted, potentially affecting its connected users. However, it’s less likely that your own network will be directly attacked since your IP address is hidden.

Can You Stop a DDoS Attack By Restarting Your Router?

Restarting your router will not stop a DDoS attack. It might temporarily disrupt the connection, but if your IP address remains the same after the restart, the attack can resume. In some cases, obtaining a new IP address from your ISP by restarting the router may provide temporary relief, but it is not a solution for stopping the attack altogether.

Does a Free VPN Help Against DDoS Attacks?

A free VPN may offer limited protection against DDoS attacks by hiding your IP address. However, free VPNs generally have fewer resources and less sophisticated infrastructure to mitigate such attacks compared to paid VPN services. Thus, they may not be as effective in defending against or mitigating DDoS attacks.

Can DDoS Attacks Be Traced?

DDoS attacks can sometimes be traced, but it’s challenging. The distributed nature of the attack, with traffic coming from multiple compromised sources, makes it difficult to identify the origin.

Law enforcement and cybersecurity professionals may use advanced tracking and forensic methods to trace back to the source of an attack, but a successful trace often requires substantial effort and technical expertise.

Can DDoS Be Prevented?

The best way to prevent a DDoS attack for individual users is to use a VPN. For businesses, is to use a secure network infrastructure and anti-DDoS services.


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