When talking about Denial of Service attacks one generally discusses attacks to the CPU, RAM, or memory on machines. I have yet to hear of an attack going after the cables which are used to transport the data (so by sending more data through certain cables than they can handle), why is this? Are these cables (either optic, CAT5 etc...) sufficiently robust that it is infeasible?

  • 2
    You cannot DoS a medium, you can only DoS the transit and endpoint.
    – mootmoot
    May 31, 2017 at 16:06
  • 1
    Overloading a pump is much less work than bursting a pipe.
    – user123931
    May 31, 2017 at 18:02
  • CAT cables are nothing more than a bunch of twisted copper wires. The only way you can "overload" them is if you sent higher voltage or amperage than what they were designed to do, which no standard hardware would be able to do. In other words, to do such attack you'll need physical access to the cable so you can use non standard hardware, like say, a scissor.
    – Lie Ryan
    Jul 1, 2017 at 1:07

3 Answers 3


If I have physical access to a medium I can more simply deny the use of the medium by jamming rather than trying to overwhelm the endpoints with valid requests. If I have a cable tap I can just spew electronic noise into the wire. If I have a wifi transceiver I can just spew electronic noise into the air. You don't need to generate properly formatted transmissions to overwhelm the service.


If you exceed the throughput of a cable, the result is not "more data in the cable than it can handle". The signalling scheme defines a bitrate, there's never larger amounts of data sent using this signalling scheme. Instead, the transmit queues of the sender will grow, because data is entering the queue faster than it is leaving.

If the queue can grow unbounded, this becomes an attack on the RAM of the sender. If not, data is discarded rather than going into the cable.

You can't convince standard hardware to overdrive the signals going onto its cable. First, the transmission electronics aren't capable of generating voltages that would damage the cable. Secondly, additional data doesn't result in greater voltages.


It's certainly possible to do a denial of service on a network link; this is part of what happens with a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack. However, in many cases it's easier (cheaper) to prevent network saturation than it is to prevent the exhaustion of other resources.

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