If a basic DoS attack can be handled by limiting the number of connections that occur in a interval of time with one IP and some enterprises and institutions use network address translation with many people using internet services.

How do you can detect if an IP is really making a DoS attack or only your service is widely used by some institution like Univerisities or an enterprise?

  • It isn’t quite clear what you are asking. You might want to take a look at what NAT is. It has nothing to do with DOS attacks
    – pm1391
    Aug 2, 2018 at 22:42
  • for example: I have a web app service that is widely used by enterprises, but one enterprise is using only one global IP translated by NAT to all employees, then my server will be requested too many times by only one IP, this can not be misunderstood like a DoS attack in some cases if the enterprise is too big?
    – BlueSeph
    Aug 2, 2018 at 22:51
  • I see what you are saying now. Sure it could happen, if all the users in the organization requested your web service at once then theoretically yes. But this will rarely happen. I will note that this has less to do with NAT and more to do with the traffic load. If their network wasn’t NATTED, you would see the same effect but from different IP’s
    – pm1391
    Aug 3, 2018 at 1:58

3 Answers 3


It's not likely a sizable number of users at some very large company will suddenly access the same resource on your server time and time again, out of nowhere. It's possible, but hardly happens, if all.

DoS almost all the time cause a very large spike on traffic, way more than a Slashdot effect, for example. Something like this: DDoS Chart

It's an old picture, but the principle is the same. A traffic spike of 36Mb is nothing today, any current smartphone could handle that.

And if some large network gets hijacked to attack your server, all packets will come from a single netblock (or a couple related netblocks), so it's easy to detect and block such attack.

Real DDoS attacks usually come from thousands to hundreds of thousands of different addresses, not a few ones.

  • Thanks!, this answer is clear and straight for the question
    – BlueSeph
    Aug 6, 2018 at 15:19

It may not be practical to mitigate DoS attacks just by limiting number of connections, though it could be one of the control. But there are enough technologies available to detect DoS - behavioral, signature based, Pattern based, etc.

You may have to understand the types of possible DoS attacks to plan your Controls/Mitigation Technologies. The context of selecting correct control is based on the asset you are going to protect and potential threats based on the possible vulnerabilities/probabilities.

Possible DoS Attack Types:

DNS Amplification – In a reflection type of attack, a perpetrator starts with small queries that use the spoofed IP address of the intended victim. Exploiting vulnerabilities on publicly-accessible domain name system (DNS) servers, the responses inflate into much larger UDP packet payloads and overwhelm the targeted servers.

UDP Flood – In this attack, the perpetrator uses UDP datagram–containing IP packets to deluge random ports on a target network. The victimized system attempts to match each datagram with an application but fails. The system soon becomes overwhelmed as it tries to handle the UDP packet reply volume.

DNS Flood – Similar to a UDP flood, this attack involves perpetrators using mass amounts of UDP packets to exhaust server side resources. Here, however, the target is DNS servers and their cache mechanisms, with the goal being to prevent the redirection of legitimate incoming requests to DNS zone resources.

HTTP Flood – This attack uses an extremely large number of HTTP GET or POST requests—seemingly legitimate—to target an application or web server. These requests are often crafted to avoid detection with the perpetrator having gained useful information regarding a target prior to the attack.

IP Fragmentation Attack – This attack involves perpetrators exploiting an IP datagram’s maximum transmission unit (MTU) to overload a system. This can be done by sending bogus ICMP and UDP packets that exceed the network MTU to the point where resources expend rapidly and the system becomes unavailable during packet reconstruction. Perpetrators can also execute a teardrop attack, which works by preventing TCP/IP packet reconstruction.

NTP Amplification – Internet-connected devices use network time protocol (NTP) servers for clock synchronization. Similar to a DNS amplification assault, here a perpetrator uses a number of NTP servers to overburden a target with user datagram protocol (UDP) traffic.

Ping Flood – Another common flood-type of attack that uses any number of ICMP echo requests, or pings, to overload the victim’s network. For each ping sent, a reciprocal one containing the same number of packets is supposed to be returned. The targeted system attempts to respond to the countless requests, eventually clogging its own network bandwidth.

SNMP Reflection – The simple network management protocol (SNMP) enables sysadmins to configure remotely and pull data from connected network devices. Using a victim’s forged IP address, a perpetrator can blast many SNMP requests to devices, each being expected to reply in turn. The number of attached devices gets dialed upward, with the network ultimately being throttled by the amount of SNMP responses.

SYN Flood – Every TCP session requires a three-way handshake between the two systems involved. Using a SYN flood, an attacker rapidly hits the target with so many connection requests that it cannot keep up, leading to network saturation.

Smurf Attack – Like a ping flood, a smurf attack relies on a large collection of ICMP echo request packets. But the resemblance stops there, as a smurf attack uses an amplification vector to increase their payload potential on broadcast networks. Smurf malware is used to trigger this assault type.

Ping of Death – PoD is a method by which hackers send abnormal or inflated packets (by way of pinging) to freeze, destabilize or crash a targeted system or service. Memory overflow occurs when it tries to reconstruct oversized data packets. Not relegated to ping alone, attackers can use any IP datagram type to launch an attack, including ICMP echo, UDP, IDX, and TCP.

Fork Bomb – This DoS attack originates from inside of a target server. In a Unix-based environment, a fork system call copies an existing “parent” process to a “child” process. Both processes can then tackle simultaneous tasks in the system kernel independent of one another. Using a fork bomb (a.k.a, “rabbit virus”), a perpetrator issues so many recursive forks that the targeted system becomes internally overwhelmed.

Source: https://www.incapsula.com/blog/security-glossary-top-12-ddos-attack-types-need-know.html

  • Oh, I think I was misunderstanding how a person can make a DoS attack, it helps to understand.
    – BlueSeph
    Aug 6, 2018 at 15:21

A lot of infrastructure these days will have a dedicated firewall to combat these types of situations. There area a few different types of firewall that are commonly used, but for the purpose of this answer I'll focus on two specifically. These are anomaly-based, and signature-based.

Anomaly-Based Firewalls

These types of firewalls first develop a baseline of what is expected to be normal, and then constantly scan and flag anything that is outside the normal realm of traffic. An example of this would be Mod Security, an open-source firewall that supports anomaly-based protection. These types of firewalls don't protect based on content, but rather what is an expected behavior. For example, if an anomaly-based firewall detected a spike in ICMP packets, regardless of whether they originate from the same IP or not, it would detect that this is a potential flood attack, and start blocking traffic from those addresses early, either alone or with an IPS.

Signature-Based Firewalls

These types of firewalls operate by looking for attack signatures. Every type of attack always leaves behind a pattern, or signature of what happened. By taking this data, a signature-based firewall can detect attacks that it has in its database. Again, for your question of a DOS attack, DOS attacks usually start with a flood of ICMP packets. (Just to add that it doesn't have to be ICMP, i've seen attacks that leveraged the SNMP protocol to flood a system.) By being vigilant and keeping an eye out for that it can start blocking traffic or take whatever pre-emptive measures that have been defined.

So to answer your question, even if an organization is using NAT, a firewall can and will usually detect a DOS attack based on its signature, regardless of address.

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