Network Denial of Service

Adversaries may perform Network Denial of Service (DoS) attacks to degrade or block the availability of targeted resources to users. Network DoS can be performed by exhausting the network bandwidth services rely on. Example resources include specific websites, email services, DNS, and web-based applications. Adversaries have been observed conducting network DoS attacks for political purposes[1] and to support other malicious activities, including distraction[2], hacktivism, and extortion.[3]

A Network DoS will occur when the bandwidth capacity of the network connection to a system is exhausted due to the volume of malicious traffic directed at the resource or the network connections and network devices the resource relies on. For example, an adversary may send 10Gbps of traffic to a server that is hosted by a network with a 1Gbps connection to the internet. This traffic can be generated by a single system or multiple systems spread across the internet, which is commonly referred to as a distributed DoS (DDoS).

To perform Network DoS attacks several aspects apply to multiple methods, including IP address spoofing, and botnets.

Adversaries may use the original IP address of an attacking system, or spoof the source IP address to make the attack traffic more difficult to trace back to the attacking system or to enable reflection. This can increase the difficulty defenders have in defending against the attack by reducing or eliminating the effectiveness of filtering by the source address on network defense devices.

For DoS attacks targeting the hosting system directly, see Endpoint Denial of Service.

ID: T1498
Sub-techniques:  T1498.001, T1498.002
Tactic: Impact
Platforms: AWS, Azure, Azure AD, GCP, Linux, Office 365, SaaS, Windows, macOS
Data Sources: Netflow/Enclave netflow, Network device logs, Network intrusion detection system, Network protocol analysis, Sensor health and status
Impact Type: Availability
Version: 1.0
Created: 17 April 2019
Last Modified: 29 March 2020


Mitigation Description
Filter Network Traffic

When flood volumes exceed the capacity of the network connection being targeted, it is typically necessary to intercept the incoming traffic upstream to filter out the attack traffic from the legitimate traffic. Such defenses can be provided by the hosting Internet Service Provider (ISP) or by a 3rd party such as a Content Delivery Network (CDN) or providers specializing in DoS mitigations.[4]

Depending on flood volume, on-premises filtering may be possible by blocking source addresses sourcing the attack, blocking ports that are being targeted, or blocking protocols being used for transport.[4]

As immediate response may require rapid engagement of 3rd parties, analyze the risk associated to critical resources being affected by Network DoS attacks and create a disaster recovery plan/business continuity plan to respond to incidents.[4]


Detection of Network DoS can sometimes be achieved before the traffic volume is sufficient to cause impact to the availability of the service, but such response time typically requires very aggressive monitoring and responsiveness or services provided by an upstream network service provider. Typical network throughput monitoring tools such as netflow[5], SNMP, and custom scripts can be used to detect sudden increases in network or service utilization. Real-time, automated, and qualitative study of the network traffic can identify a sudden surge in one type of protocol can be used to detect an Network DoS event as it starts. Often, the lead time may be small and the indicator of an event availability of the network or service drops. The analysis tools mentioned can then be used to determine the type of DoS causing the outage and help with remediation.