DDoS attacks are rising, and hosts find it harder to prevent them. Distributed Denial of Service attack or DDoS attack is a malicious act of sending numerous requests to a target, usually to a website or server, to make it impossible for legitimate users to access the site.
DDoS attacks are increasingly becoming common, especially for people who have their websites. This happens because DDoS attacks are harder to trace, and the perpetrators are hard to identify.
As we advance into the IoT era, it's hard to deny that these attacks are becoming more frequent and powerful. This blog will cover DDoS attacks and how to prevent them.
What Is a DDoS Attack?
A DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack is a cyberattack that aims to crash a system by flooding the system with fake traffic. The sudden spike in connection requests overwhelms the server and denies the rest of the legitimate users access to the system.
There are several DDoS attacks have occurred in the past. One of the most famous DDoS attacks happened to the Sony PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.
DDoS attacks can vary in size and scope, but the biggest attacks can bring down the entire internet. The scale of the attack depends on the number of compromised devices used.
According to Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report, 2016, "The number of devices that were compromised in DDoS attacks has increased from approximately 300,000."
The most common objectives behind a DDoS attack can be to:
- Damage brand name
- Gain an advantage while the competitor's site is down
- Disrupt communications
- Access sensitive information
How Is a DDoS Attack Caused?
DDoS attacks are caused by using a botnet. A botnet is a computer network infected by malware under the control of a single attacking party, known as the “bot-herder.” The botnet sends countless messages or requests for a server to slow down.
DDoS attackers primarily target all forms of businesses. Most commonly, these can be:
- IT service providers
- Online retailers
- Financial and fintech companies
- Government entities
- Online gaming and gambling companies
Types of DDoS Attacks
There are basically three types of DDoS attacks, namely,
1. Application-layer attacks
2. Protocol attacks
3. Volumetric attacks
The differences between these types of attacks are based on the techniques and different strategies used by the hackers.
Type 1 - Application-layer Attacks
Application-layer attacks the target and disrupts a single app instead of an entire network. By generating many HTTP requests, hackers can exhaust the target server's ability to respond, leaving common web apps, internet-connected apps, and cloud services vulnerable.
Type 2 - Protocol Attacks
Protocol DDoS attacks, also known as network-layer attacks, exploit vulnerabilities in the protocols that manage internet communications. Unlike app-level DDoS attacks, which target a specific application, a protocol attack aims to bring down the entire network.
Type 3 - Volumetric Attacks
A volume-based DDoS attack floods the target with false data requests, thus consuming its available bandwidth and preventing legitimate traffic from getting through. The attacker's traffic blocks legitimate users from accessing the necessary services, resulting in network congestion.
5 Ways To Prevent DDoS Attacks
The best-practiced techniques by which one can prevent DDoS attacks are:
- High levels of network security
- Server redundancy
- Monitoring website traffic
- Leveraging the cloud
- Limiting network broadcasting
1. High Levels of Network Security
Network security is absolutely essential for stopping any DDoS attack attempt. Because an attack only has an impact if a hacker can pile up enough requests over time, the ability to identify a DDoS early on is vital to keeping the damage under control.
The different types of network security you can use to prevent DDoS attacks can be:
- Firewalls and intrusion detection system
- Anti-virus and Anti-malware
- Network segmentation
- Web security tools
DDoS attacks can be devastating to businesses of all sizes, which is why it's so important to make sure your network infrastructure is as secure as possible. By securing networking devices such as routers, load-balancers, and Domain Name Systems (DNS), you can help protect your business from these types of attacks.
2. Server Redundancy
By relying on multiple distributed servers, it becomes more difficult for a hacker to attack all servers at the same time. If an attacker successfully launches a DDoS on a single hosting device, the other servers remain unaffected and take on the extra traffic until the targeted system is back online. This makes it difficult for attackers to take down an entire system with a DDoS attack.
3. Monitoring Website Traffic
Continuous monitoring (CM) is an effective method of detecting possible DDoS activity by analyzing traffic in real time. The benefits of using CM are as follows:
- You're able to detect a DDoS attempt before the attack intensifies.
- The team can develop a clear understanding of what typical network activity and traffic patterns look like. Once you have this baseline, it's easier to identify any strange or out-of-the-ordinary activity.
- Since CM is conducted around the clock, it increases the chances of detecting an attack that occurs outside of office hours or on weekends.
4. Leveraging the Cloud
Cloud-based protection can scale and handle even a major volumetric DDoS attack with ease.
Some of the key benefits of working with a third-party vendor are:
- Cloud providers offer comprehensive cybersecurity, with robust firewalls and top-of-the-line threat monitoring software.
- The public cloud has greater bandwidth than any private network.
- Data centers provide high network redundancy, ensuring that data, systems, and equipment are always available.
5. Limiting Network Broadcasting
A hacker perpetuating a DDoS attack will likely send requests to every device on your network to increase the power of the attack. Your security team can thwart this method by limiting network broadcasting between devices.
By limiting (or, where possible, disabling) broadcast forwarding, you can effectively disrupt a high-volume DDoS attempt. Where possible, you can also tell employees to disable echo and charge services.
According to a report on cybersecurity published by Cisco, a prediction is made that the average number of annual DDoS attempts will rise to 15.4 million by 2023. With numbers like that, it's important for businesses to be proactive and ensure their online security. We hope this blog post has helped you understand DDoS attacks better and that you're now more prepared for this type of cyber attack if it does happen to you.