A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is one of two kinds of Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. The same internet device and/or one and only one internet connection is used to execute a DDoS attack. A DoS attack involves attacks from multiple internet sources.
The Annual Cybersecurity report by Bulletproof indicates that such an attack could cost your company anywhere between 120,000 USD (for small-scale companies) and 2 Million USD (for large scale companies). Stating the obvious – it’s absolutely imperative that you stop them. But what exactly is a DDoS attack?
DDoS Attacks – Meaning and Impact
Your server deals with live consumer traffic, responding to requests as fast as it can. What if the server loses its ability to respond adequately? What if your server gets so busy handling spam requests that all legitimate requests cannot not be served on time?
That is precisely what a DDoS attack does.
Attackers first hack into multiple PCs using malware to create a system known as a botnet. The attack is executed through the same network and the botnet may consist of thousands of systems. None of the victims would have a clue that your server has been compromised.
The botnet will now send spam messages and requests to your server – all fake traffic. The fake traffic will confuse your host server and overload it. This will render your website incapable of timely responsiveness to actual, authentic traffic.
A DDoS attack can be of three types viz. Volume Based, Protocol, and Application Layer attacks. The goals behind each of these attacks are bandwidth-saturation, resource-consumption, and server crashing, respectively.
The attacker can use any one of these techniques based on the goal he wants to achieve. One botnet is usually enough to break through your website security but is also relatively easy to track and fix.
In lieu of this, one perpetrator may create more than one botnet to target your website using other techniques. This means 3 botnets could be used to attack simultaneously with three different attack goals in mind. They would make use of all 3 DDoS attack techniques at the same time.
This can cause your bandwidth to significantly decrease, making your site very slow or completely unresponsive. This can also lead to your entire server crashing, which is a major problem. Your entire website and workflow will collapse. You will not be able to take in new customers, store new data, or access the data already present.
Imagine such an event on a time-bound website, such as finance or healthcare. Those sectors that function in real-time can never afford DDoS attacks. The monetary losses would be huge, but there would be other significant losses, like customer trust and customers’ perception of your company’s reliability.
Therefore, it is absolutely important to get the best DDoS protection possible and protect your website and Content Delivery Network (More on what this is, below).
Why Attack You?
Attackers are motivated to attack you for a number of reasons. Some of them could be:
Business Rivalry – Your competitors may want to bring you down.
Hacktivism – Certain ideological individuals may disagree with what you, your website, or the company board preach. They’ll want to make a statement through their attack. This sentiment is called hacktivism, made from two words ‘hack’ and ‘activism’.
Blackmail or Ransom – They may keep attacking you until you agree to pay them. The payment could be in millions of dollars.
Cyber War – Sometimes, governments order such attacks to take down a rival country’s infrastructure. Such attacks disrupt a nation’s essential services like finance and health. These are carried out by handpicked experts and are very hard to stop.
Show-Off – Some hackers like to earn respect within the hacking community by attacking a giant company and showing off their hacking prowess among peers. Even if you’re a small company, a random hacker may decide to attack you as a small test before going for big companies using a VPN.
High-Level DDoS Protection Strategies
DDoS protection is much harder than, say, virus detection, or malware removal. Some ways to maintain website security are:
Keep a Response Plan Ready
Never assume you’re safe. Create a response team, discuss and implement steps to take based on the severity and the impact of the attack. Make a list of executives to be informed.
Discuss the extent to which the special response team can modify predefined protocols. Modifying steps will allow them to use an approach they think is better suited to the situation.
Adhere to Basic Network Security Rules
You need to adhere to common practices in networking. They could be changing the passwords every month, securing all your firewalls, conducting routine network tests, etc. These measures will not stop the DDoS attacks, but they may significantly reduce the severity of the attack. They will also let your team carry out debugging and malware removal efficiently.
Design and Deploy a Secure, Bankable Architecture
If all goes south, your servers may crash and your systems will be down till your I.T support team can secure the threat and repair the damages. To avoid this, try to have your servers geographically spread out so that they are hard to reach through the same network. Also, keep backup servers you can use during such attacks.
Outsource DDoS Protection to Cloud-based or Similar Services
This is the best and the easiest method to save your website. These are services that ensure your server is safe from attacks. A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a set of distributed servers responding directly to web-generated requests. Outsourcing DDoS Protection provides a cushion for website security as well as CDNs.
You can avoid DDoS attacks and get the best DDoS Mitigation through outsourcing services to vendors. Some vendors offer only cloud-based mitigation while some offer a combination for your websites and CDN. The combination would be dedicated-servers and cloud-based protection.
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