DDoS attacks aim to overload networks with malicious traffic so that they become unavailable to legitimate users. The fact that online services are so important to businesses (and individuals) means that DDoS attacks are a very serious threat. This means that it’s hugely important to have effective DDoS protection in place.
The term “DDoS attack” is short for Distributed Denial of Service attack. The keyword in that sentence is “distributed”. Early Denial of Service attacks came from a central point. This generally made them fairly easy to identify and neutralize. That’s exactly why cyberattackers moved on to Distributed Denial of Service attacks.
With Distributed Denial of Service attacks attackers use multiple computers simultaneously. In fact, DDoS attacks are often launched using botnets. In the context of cyberattacks, these are networks of computers that are taken over by attackers without their owners’ knowledge. The size of botnets can range from a few hundred devices to millions of devices.
Using botnets can make it a lot harder for cybersecurity personnel to find ways to separate malicious traffic from legitimate traffic. This is because there may not be a single identifier common to all malicious traffic. Botnets also make it easier for cyber attackers to hide their identity and hence evade sanctions.
At a basic level, there are two components of effective DDoS protection. Firstly, you need to create a resilient network. Secondly, you need to monitor that network effectively. Be very aware of the fact that modern DDoS attacks can be much faster acting than old DoS attacks. You, therefore, need to be constantly vigilant and ready to act quickly and effectively.
To be able to act effectively, you need to have a plan in place for neutralizing DDoS attacks. This plan may require you to have resources in place to counterbalance the impact of the attack. For example, you may choose to use the public cloud to provide extra bandwidth on demand. Generally, you will want, if not need, to prepare this in advance.
There are three key components of a resilient network. These are security, bandwidth, and intelligent traffic management.
Security is a non-negotiable for anything to do with IT. It should therefore be baked into literally everything you do. In the context of DDoS protection, you should pay special attention to any public-facing areas of your infrastructure such as your website. Any security gaps here could be leveraged by DDoS attackers.
Bandwidth is probably the most obvious form of DDoS protection. In theory, it is also the most effective. Unfortunately, it is also the most expensive option. This means that it generally has to be deployed strategically.
For example, businesses could use public cloud infrastructure to keep going while they resolve the attack. The costs of this may require businesses to focus on the most essential services (e.g. customer-facing ones). Other functions may have to be scaled back or even paused until the attack is resolved.
There are two key steps businesses can take to manage their traffic in a way that maximizes their DDoS protection. The first is to distribute service delivery as much as possible. For example, instead of just using a centralized cloud, consider using a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
CDNs are networks of distributed servers. They can cover specific regions or have truly global reach. Their distributed nature means that it’s very hard for a DDoS attack to take down the whole network. It also means that legitimate users tend to get their content served more quickly.
Even with a CDN, however, you will still need to think about traffic management. This means that you want infrastructure that can analyze, filter, and route traffic effectively. Your precise requirements will depend on your approach to DDoS protection. In other words, are you going to outsource it to a DDoS protection service or have your IT manage this.
Last but definitely not least, you also need robust monitoring systems. This means you also need in-house IT staff and/or a contract with a managed IT vendor. It’s vital to react at the very first sign that anything is amiss. False alerts may be annoying but delaying your response to a genuine DDoS attack is a lot worse.
There are three main steps to dealing with a DDoS attack. They are neutralization, solution, and communication.
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