The web is buzzing with the potential that Walmart was hit with a DOS attack Tuesday. A DOS attack is a Denial of Service attack where a hacker floods a site with a lot of requests all at once. This attack tends to bring down a site or slow it down to the point that you really can’t use it as a consumer. DOS attacks are nothing new, they have been going on for years, but the timing is interesting.
During Power Week, when every retailer is expecting massive volumes of traffic, a DOS attack is the perfect attack. Why? Because when you see a traffic spike, the first think that most retailers will think is, “great, we are seeing high volumes of consumer traffic.” That’s what everyone has been trained to think, so an attack at this point in time can go unnoticed for a while. And of course if you are doing hundreds of transactions a second, being down for one hour, will hurt!
Someone like Walmart will spot this attack but a mid-size retailer or one not thinking about an attack could go down for hours as they try and fix their “load” issue when in fact it is an attack that is not going to stop. This could really damage a company. Just knowing how many retailers think, a DOS attack is not top of mind when a lot of traffic is seen.