Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks threaten data integrity of numerous companies worldwide. Unlike a DoS attack, which originates from a single location, DDoS attacks occur from multiple locations simultaneously, making securing data potentially more complicated.
Understanding the mechanism of DDoS attacks and what an enterprise must do to safeguard its data against them is critical. Here Craig Lusher, Senior Product Specialist – Secure, discusses where DDoS attacks originate and why it is important to deploy thorough prevention strategies.
How do DDoS attacks work?
DDoS attacks involve hackers flooding a network or server with fake traffic. They overwhelm the system, disrupting genuine user requests and causing the server to crash. During a DDoS attack, your website will be bombarded with requests from various sources for an extended duration.
These requests are not a result of a sudden increase in legitimate visitors. Instead, they are automated and originate from a limited number of sources, the quantity of which depends on the attack’s size.
DDoS attacks can come from competitors or other entities that intend to disrupt access to website’s content. Either way, it poses significant risks to the company’s integrity.
For instance, research conducted in 2022 revealed a 74 percent increase in DDoS attacks, causing disruptions and financial losses. Most of these attacks targeted the fintech industry, accounting for 34 percent of these attacks and experiencing a twelvefold rise in attack traffic. Experts also predicted that the number of DDoS attacks would double, going from 7.9 million in 2018 to over 15 million by 2023.
Moreover, DDoS attacks can have widespread consequences beyond individual data breaches. They can disrupt entire networks, affecting critical services and the availability of websites and online platforms. For businesses, these attacks can lead to significant financial losses, harm their reputation, and diminish customer trust.
Strategies to prevent DDoS attacks
Seeing how significant the impact of DDoS attacks is, use the following strategies to shield your server from these threats.
To strengthen your hosting against DDoS attacks, you need sufficient bandwidth to manage traffic spikes caused by cyber attacks. Increasing bandwidth makes it harder for attackers to execute successful DDoS attacks. However, this won’t be enough to protect your website thoroughly. It would be best to combine it with other mitigation tactics for comprehensive cyber security.
Prepare for DDoS attacks in advance
Anticipating a cyber attack in advance is essential for a proactive security architecture, enabling a quick response to potential threats before they can harm your website. An effective security plan includes identifying your response team, prioritizing critical functions, and establishing communication with your Internet Service Provider, which can help stop the attack.
Identify normal traffic
When you notice a sudden increase in traffic to a host, you can use ‘rate limiting’ to manage the incoming traffic at a level the host can handle without causing disruptions. Advanced security goes further by checking each packet to see if it’s valid. If you want to do this effectively, you must understand what normal, legitimate traffic for the target looks like and then compare each packet to this standard. This will help you identify any unusual patterns or potential threats.
Diversify security infrastructure
To protect against DDoS attacks, your infrastructure should be robust. Instead of relying solely on firewalls, you can diversify your approach by distributing data centers across different networks, avoiding concentration in one location, placing servers in multiple data centers, and ensuring uninterrupted traffic flow without network bottlenecks.
Practice security policies
Make sure to follow strong security practices, like changing passwords regularly, using secure authentication, and avoiding phishing attacks. Reducing user errors within your organization enhances safety, even during an attack.
Implement black hole routing
Black hole routing is a method to stop DDoS attacks by discarding harmful traffic before it reaches the target. It works by directing traffic to a non-existent “black hole” interface, effectively blocking traffic from the source of the attack. Although it is a reactive measure, it reduces the impact of DDoS attacks.
Employ a Cloud-based solution
A cloud-based DDoS service like Continent 8 is essential for effective protection. The cloud offers more bandwidth than on-premises resources and distributes servers across different locations, enhancing security for many websites with limited resources.
Monitor and analyze logs
Log monitoring provides valuable insights into your web traffic, enabling real-time threat detection and a faster DDoS mitigation process. By analysing log traffic statistics, you can identify when significant traffic spikes occur and determine the servers affected by the attack. Log analysis can also save time by notifying you about unwanted events in advance, reducing the time and effort needed for troubleshooting.
Recognize signs of DDoS attacks
Your network may slow down unexpectedly, your website could shut down, and you might start receiving an influx of spam. Additional signs of a DDoS attack include slow performance, excessive traffic from a single source, frequent crashes, poor connectivity, and any other unusual patterns, like a sudden surge in traffic from a single IP address.
Use a Web Application Firewall
A web application firewall (WAF) protects against harmful traffic that targets application vulnerabilities. It watches for unusual traffic patterns, blocking malicious ones while allowing legitimate ones. When you position a WAF between your server and the internet, it acts like a shield, ensuring all traffic goes through it first.
Security providers like Continent 8 assist global enterprises in protecting their servers from these malicious attacks. Ensure that you are implementing the industry’s best practices and be adaptive to changes.