A Business Survivalist’s Guide to DDoS Attacks
In the time it takes you to read this blog, more than one hundred DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attacks, mobilizing millions of hijacked devices, will be mounted against political and commercial targets worldwide. Forty percent of those attacks will be aimed at sites in the United States.
Not only are DDoS attacks growing in number, but they’re also growing in size. While it was rare to see a DDoS attack of more than one terabit per second (tbps) a few years ago, it’s not unusual to see 1+ tbps attacks these days—in fact, it’s fast becoming the norm as DDoS attacks become easier and cheaper to mount.
The recent rise in DDoS attacks can be traced back to the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. As more of the world’s commerce and communications moved to digital spaces, DDoS attacks became a highly effective way for hacktivists and cybercriminals to make the news and make money. Add geopolitical pressures to the mix (e.g., the Russian-Ukraine war) and the convenience of cryptocurrencies to monetize these attacks. You have a perfect storm for DDoS raids to gather force.
DDoS development tends to be a self-feeding mechanism. As hackers develop more powerful DDoS attack software, these tools quickly appear in the secondary market for sale as “DDoS attacks for hire.” You can literally buy and target your own DDoS attack on the Internet with no coding experience and just a few hundred dollars worth of crypto coin.
How Can DDoS Attacks Impact and Injure Your Business?
The primary goal of a DDoS attack is straightforward: to flood your site or servers with so many requests that they effectively shut down the website or targeted application. Downtime for business, especially in the digital age, means operations shut down, commerce is unavailable, customer services are impacted and business reputation suffers – to name a few of the detrimental effects.
There are a variety of ways that a DDoS attack can achieve this goal. Attacks send millions of page requests to your website from different IP addresses, overwhelming your web server. Or hackers can target a specific application with millions of requests. Protocol requests can even be sent to your DNS server to render your website unreachable.
There are a variety of reasons why your business might be targeted with a DDoS attack. It could be a politically motivated attack, as was the case during the early days of the Russian-Ukraine war when Ukrainian-friendly hacktivists targeted Russian agencies and businesses. It could be financially motivated, with the DDoS attack accompanied by a demand for funds to be exchanged before stopping the attack. It could be a smokescreen attack to divert security teams while another attack (e.g., malware injection) is being mounted. It could even be a competitor attacking your site to cause you to lose face or revenue (or both). These are just the avenues of an attack.
How Can Business Leaders Prevent A DDoS Attack?
Because of the highly distributed nature of a DDoS attack, traditional security measures such as blacklisting are ineffective. Instead, security teams need to use other methods to detect, block, and divert DDoS attacks. One way to prevent against DDoS attacks is through rate limiting, which prevents network traffic from reaching a point where it can overwhelm your resources. Although basically effective, rate limiting isn’t very sophisticated, as it blocks both good and bad traffic. Load balancing and on-demand scaling can serve much the same purpose by increasing capacity during an attack.
The best way to prevent against a DDoS attack is to reduce your attack surface through gatekeeper devices such as firewalls, border gateways, and built-in system redundancies. For example, deploying backup workloads in two different data centers ensures that if one location is comprised, the other location can perform the necessary operations.
Within the data center itself, businesses can set up redundant network services, using a blend of Internet service providers (ISPs)—and divert traffic to a safe place to be analyzed and filtered, so that good traffic gets through DDoS traffic gets dumped. Because of its inherent redundancy, scalable nature, and ample carrier ecosystem, colocation infrastructure has a distinct advantage over traditional, on-prem data centers regarding DDoS protection.
Shut Down DDoS Attacks With Element Critical’s EC Defend DDoS Solution
Element Critical’s hosted data center infrastructure features built-in defense mechanisms against DDoS attacks with its EC-Defend solution. EC Defend combines two Tier I network providers, combining peak performance with premium defense measures to prevent and mitigate a DDoS attack with our single, unified solution. With EC-Defend, DDoS attacks are safely and quickly deflected before they can impact your online systems.
Element Critical also offers additional professionally managed services such as firewall security and border gateways to protect your infrastructure from direct attacks, employing advanced packet analysis and filtering to block malicious traffic, geo-redundant hosting centers, and redundant ISPs to ensure there is never a single point of failure.
Don’t let cybercriminals take your business hostage. Put your servers and applications where they can’t touch them: in colocation and collaboration with Element Critical. Speak with our solutions architect today to learn more about our EC-Defend solution or additional security services.