First of all, I'd like to know what exactly a DDoS attack is- my understanding is that it's a collection of infected or "zombie" computers, all controlled by a central computer, with the intent of overloading the website, and making it inaccessible and / or slowing the service down to 90's dial up levels (a.k.a. unusable).

How can one prevent it? I understand that those annoying CAPTCHAs are used, but is there actually a way to prevent one manually?

How well do third-party security services, such as cloudflare or fire eye, work? Are there ways to beat them?

What are the repercussions of a DDoS attack? If a website is DDoS'd, are passwords / credit card / bank data stored in the database compromised? Are certain pieces of encrypted data now at risk of exposure?

Thanks, everyone!

closed as too broad by TildalWave, apsillers, RoraΖ, schroeder, Steve Mar 3 '15 at 19:06

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All a denial of service attack (of which a DDoS is a specific type) does is deny legitimate users access to the site. Anything further is a separate attack. Any repercussions are just those arising from the site no longer being accessible to legitimate users for a time (availability being one of the three pillars of security, which is why this is a security issue even though there is no data breach and no malicious users get control of the site).

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