DDoS Attack Examples (2024): The 7 Worst Attacks Ever

By Tibor Moes / Updated: January 2024

DDoS Attack Examples (2023): The 10 Worst Attacks Ever

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks represent a formidable digital threat, disrupting services by overwhelming systems with a flood of internet traffic.

In this article, readers will discover insights into the seven most devastating DDoS attacks in history, understanding their impact and significance in the digital world.


A DDoS attack is designed to take down websites and networks. It is a form of cybercrime that sends a huge torrent of fake traffic to online services, like websites, until they freeze or break.

  • Project Rivolta (2000): This early 21st-century attack targeted 16 major companies, marking a significant escalation in digital threats. The financial damage was estimated at $1.7 billion.
  • Estonia DDoS Attack (2007): A politically charged attack that demonstrated the power of mobilizing a vast network of bots. Nearly a million “zombie” computers were used, creating significant disruption.
  • Operation Payback (2010): A campaign turned digital protest, targeting major companies like PayPal, which reported losses of $5.6 million.
  • Spamhaus DDoS Attack (2013): Targeting a non-profit anti-spam organization, this attack reached a then-unprecedented scale of 300 Gbit/s.
  • Dyn DDoS Attack (2016): A massive attack involving around 100,000 malicious endpoints, reaching a strength of 2 terabits per second and disrupting major internet services.
  • GitHub DDoS Attack (2018): The most powerful recorded at the time, peaking at 35 terabits per second and showcasing the growing sophistication of such attacks.
  • Amazon DDoS Attack (2020): Set a new record with a peak of 3 terabits per second, highlighting the escalating magnitude of these threats.

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DDoS Attack Examples

1. Project Rivolta (2000)

In the dawn of the new millennium, a digital catastrophe unfolded, known as Project Rivolta. This unprecedented attack left a trail of chaos and financial ruin, targeting no less than 16 major companies.

The aggressors, exploiting the relatively nascent state of internet security, launched a series of coordinated DDoS attacks. These relentless assaults overwhelmed company servers with an avalanche of digital requests, effectively paralyzing their online presence. The aftermath was not just a temporary disruption of services; it was a financial calamity.

According to a report by kidsnews.com, the estimated damage inflicted by Project Rivolta was a staggering $1.7 billion. This figure reflects not just the direct costs of countering the attacks and restoring services but also the profound loss in consumer trust and business interruption.

The year 2000 marked a turning point, showing the world that digital threats could yield real-world havoc on an unimaginable scale.

2. Estonia DDoS Attack (2007)

Seven years later, in 2007, a small Baltic nation experienced what could only be described as digital warfare. Estonia, known for its advanced digital infrastructure, became the target of a massive DDoS attack, which many believed was politically motivated. This attack was unique not just in its scale but in its sophistication.

As reported by cyberlaw.ccdcoe.org, the Estonian Defence Minister, Jaak Aaviksoo, revealed a startling fact. The attackers had commandeered nearly a million “zombie” computers worldwide, creating an enormous botnet. These hijacked computers, unbeknownst to their owners, became the unwitting soldiers in this digital assault. By leveraging this vast network of bots, the attackers amplified the impact of their onslaught, overwhelming Estonia’s digital defenses.

The attack was a wake-up call to the world, underscoring the vulnerability of even the most advanced digital societies and the need for robust cyber defenses.

3. Operation Payback (2010)

In 2010, the digital world witnessed a new breed of cyber activism with Operation Payback. What began as a campaign to support file-sharing sites quickly escalated into a series of attacks against major companies. This operation, running from September 2010 through January 2011, symbolized a shift in the use of DDoS attacks as a means of digital protest.

One of the most notable targets was PayPal, a global leader in online payment services. As detailed by DarkReading, PayPal reported staggering losses of $5.6 million due to these attacks. This figure not only reflects the direct financial damage but also highlights the broader impact on business operations and customer trust.

The sheer scale of this operation and its financial implications underscored a crucial lesson: digital platforms are not just susceptible to cybercriminals but also to ideologically motivated groups wielding DDoS attacks as a tool for protest.

4. Spamhaus DDoS Attack in 2013

The year 2013 marked a new high in the annals of DDoS attack history with the assault on Spamhaus, a non-profit anti-spam organization. This attack was not just another disruption; it was a display of cyber might.

Reaching an unprecedented scale of 300 Gbit/s, as reported by The Register, it was one of the largest known DDoS attacks at the time. The attack’s magnitude was such that it did not just threaten the stability of Spamhaus but also posed a significant risk to the wider internet infrastructure.

This overwhelming barrage of traffic, aimed at choking the organization’s ability to function, was a stark reminder of the growing power and sophistication of DDoS attacks. It highlighted a crucial vulnerability in the internet’s architecture and raised serious questions about the readiness of organizations to handle such large-scale threats.

5. Dyn DDoS Attack (2016)

In 2016, the internet infrastructure company Dyn faced an unprecedented challenge. This DDoS attack was not just notable for its scale but also for its sophistication.

The Guardian reported that the attack reached an extraordinary strength of 1.2 terabits per second, equivalent to 1,200 gigabytes per second. This immense volume of traffic was enough to overwhelm even the most robust servers. Dyn, which plays a critical role in directing internet traffic, estimated that the attack had involved around 100,000 malicious endpoints.

These endpoints, mostly comprised of infected IoT devices, formed a massive botnet that bombarded Dyn’s servers. The impact of this attack was far-reaching, disrupting major websites and services across the internet. It was a stark reminder of the growing vulnerabilities in an increasingly connected world and the potential for massive disruptions caused by exploiting these weaknesses.

6. GitHub DDoS Attack (2018)

The GitHub DDoS attack in 2018 set a new record in the world of cyber threats. As detailed in GitHub’s incident report, this attack peaked at an astonishing 1.35 terabits per second of traffic. This made it the most powerful DDoS attack recorded to that date. The scale of the attack was so massive that it could have crippled the services of this essential platform for developers worldwide.

However, GitHub’s proactive response and robust infrastructure helped mitigate the attack’s impact. The sheer volume of traffic in this attack underscored the continuous escalation of DDoS attacks in both size and complexity.

It also highlighted the critical importance of having sophisticated defense mechanisms in place to protect against such colossal cyber threats.

7. Amazon DDoS Attack (2020)

In 2020, the digital landscape faced yet another seismic event – a DDoS attack against Amazon, the global e-commerce and cloud computing giant. This attack wasn’t just another entry in the chronicles of cyber assaults; it set a record for its sheer magnitude.

According to a report by A10 Networks, the attack reached an unprecedented peak of 2.3 terabits per second (Tbps). To put this in perspective, this rate of data flow is akin to streaming hundreds of thousands of high-definition movies simultaneously. This made it the largest DDoS attack ever recorded at the time.

The target, Amazon Web Services (AWS), is a backbone of the internet, hosting vast amounts of web traffic for companies worldwide. An attack of this scale on such a pivotal player in the digital space was not just an attack on a single entity but a threat to the very infrastructure of the online world.

The fact that AWS could withstand and mitigate this colossal attack is a testament to the robustness of its defenses. However, it also served as a stark reminder of the escalating power and sophistication of cyberattacks. It highlighted the importance of continuous innovation in cybersecurity strategies to protect against increasingly potent threats.

The 2020 Amazon DDoS attack was a watershed moment, underscoring the ever-evolving nature of cyber threats and the need for unceasing vigilance and advanced preparedness in the digital domain.


The series of DDoS attacks we’ve explored, from the early days of the internet to the present, clearly demonstrate an alarming trend. These attacks have evolved not only in their technical sophistication but also in their ability to cause widespread disruption and significant financial damage.

From the $1.7 billion blow of Project Rivolta to the record-breaking 2.3 Tbps attack on Amazon, each incident underscores the critical need for robust cyber defenses in an increasingly interconnected world.

In light of these escalating cyber threats, the importance of investing in reliable antivirus software for Windows 11 cannot be overstated. Brands like Norton, Avast, TotalAV, Bitdefender, McAfee, Panda, and Avira offer advanced protection features that are crucial in this digital age. These tools not only provide essential defense against viruses and malware but also include features to safeguard against DDoS attacks and other cyber threats.

Utilizing such antivirus solutions can significantly enhance a user’s digital security, offering peace of mind in a landscape where cyber threats are constantly evolving. Investing in these antivirus programs is not just a precautionary measure; it’s an essential step towards ensuring the safety and integrity of our digital lives.


  1. Kidsnews.com
  2. Cyberlaw.ccdcoe.org
  3. Darkreading.com
  4. Theregister.com
  5. Theguardian.com
  6. Github.blog
  7. a10networks.com


Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor has tested 39 antivirus programs and 30 VPN services, and holds a Cybersecurity Graduate Certificate from Stanford University.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.