DDoS or “Distributed Denial of Service” attacks are becoming increasingly common, rising by 31% year on year in the first quarter of 2021.

They are also becoming more sophisticated.

In recent years. DDoS incidents have been elevated from the status of ‘minor nuisance’ and have instead turned into a severe threat for businesses of all sizes.

Read on to learn more about how to prepare your business to meet this threat head-on and about how to protect your website from a DDoS attack.

What does a DDoS attack mean?

A DDoS attack usually consists of a high number of HTTP requests or accesses from distributed remote locations. An attacker will use different devices to flood their target’s resources with these automated and fraudulent requests until the target resources can no longer function in the intended manner.

Today’s DDoS attackers are able to achieve this on a vast scale, so much so that legitimate users will no longer be able to gain access. By isolating specific resources on the target network, attackers can effectively knock these resources out of action, grinding operations to a halt.

In many cases, attackers focus on routers or switches that connect servers rather than the servers themselves. These network components have relatively limited bandwidth and can quickly become overwhelmed. Attackers may then request a ransom or require that another action be carried out before the DDoS is lifted.

Identifying the DDoS attack

The first sign is likely to be an anomalous increase in traffic or a spike in HTTP requests to specific areas of your network. Initially, it may not be easy to determine whether this is organic traffic or an attack. However, the volume of requests — compared and contrasted with your analytics history — should give you an indication of whether or not a DDoS incident is taking place.

As traffic grows, specific system components may become slow and unresponsive and may even stop working altogether. You will likely start to receive reports from customers or stakeholders that network components are not working. However, this will only begin to happen once the DDoS has already gathered pace. It is your analytics that provides the first line of detection.

Common types of DDoS attacks

Some of the more common DDoS attacks include:

  • Protocol attacks. These are designed to target vulnerabilities in your internet communication protocols.
  • Application layer attacks. These will target individual web applications, finding specific weaknesses in these apps.
  • Volumetric attacks. Attacks designed to flood the network’s bandwidth with traffic.
  • DNS flood. Attackers target individual or multiple DNS servers by generating a massive number of fake request packets.
  • VoIP flood. Attackers send a flood of false requests to a voice-over-internet-protocol server to overwhelm resources.
  • Ping of Death attack. Attackers use ping commands to send oversized or malformed data packets that create instability in network computers or crash network locations altogether.

How do you prevent a DDoS attack?

You can protect your system from a DDoS attack in a number of different ways:


Reduce the attack surface area

If you minimise the opportunities by reducing the attack surface area, you will limit the options for potential DDoS attackers. Effectively, you are blocking access to any applications, protocols or resources that you do not commonly communicate with. You may be able to achieve this by establishing a comprehensive firewall or using access control lists to limit what traffic can reach your system. Alternatively, you may choose to protect vulnerable resources with a content distribution network to restrict direct internet traffic.


Scale your capacity

If you increase your capacity, you may be able to prevent the damage often caused by a DDoS attack. This involves making sure that you have enough redundant connectivity to handle a large traffic surge in traffic volume should it arrive.

There are two ways to achieve this. One is to increase your transit capacity by placing your resources as close to your end-users as possible so that they can always get access to your applications during high volumes of traffic. Alternatively, make sure that you can scale your needs quickly at the server end. You can use load balancers to do this when needed so you do not overload any particular resource.


Identify normal and abnormal traffic

Deploy an analytics system that uses artificial intelligence to assess incoming traffic and determine if it is legitimate or not. By establishing traffic baselines, your analytics will learn when to expect traffic surges and how to recognise organic surges. From here, your systems will be able to take automatic action to either extend capacity or to reject access.


Set up firewalls

As attacks become more sophisticated, the tools you use to protect yourself should follow suit, growing more sophisticated in response. This includes your firewalls. You can create customised rules within a firewall that allow you to identify legitimate requests, unexpected origins and other potential sources of fraudulent traffic. With the right set of rules in place, you will be able to mitigate the impact of a DDoS attack.

Call upon the experts and defend your systems

Unfortunately, DDoS attacks can and do happen. There were more than 10 million Distributed Denial of Service attacks in 2020, and this number has increased once again in 2021.

This is partly because the resources that criminals need to carry out such attacks are becoming more widely available, so criminals are able to launch sophisticated attacks and extort money from victims as a result.

This is why it is so important to call upon the experts as you seek to defend yourself from DDoS attacks

Meaning, you need to make sure your business is adequately protected and that nothing is left to chance.

Our team can help you make sure this is the case.

We provide a range of services from enhanced website security to web app development, each of which is geared towards helping our customers run their businesses in a safer, more effective manner.

Reach out today and learn more.