How To Prevent DDoS Attacks

Threat actors are actively exploiting vulnerabilities. Is your business prepared?

How to Prevent DDoS Attacks

It started with a trickle of internet traffic that quickly became a flood. So much that it crashed your network, slowing your operations down to a halt. It's a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and every minute of downtime is costing your business money.

In truth, there is no way to fully prevent your business from falling victim to a DDoS attack. However, by taking a layered, or defense in depth approach to security, you’ll be better prepared to handle an attack.

What Is A Distributed Denial Of Service (DDoS) Attack?

A DDoS attack uses the processing power of hundreds or thousands of malware-infected computers and/or internet of things (IoT) devices to create a botnet. The attacker then remotely directs these zombified agents to ping a server's IP address with requests until its resources are overwhelmed, causing a denial of service to normal traffic.

Understanding DDoS Attacks

Your first question might be why?, your second question may be how?, but your third question should NOT be what do we do now?

You’ve been hit by an attack and you've got to get back online asap no matter the cause. But let's first consider the why.

Why Do DDoS Attacks Happen?

DDoS attacks have evolved in size and complexity. In the early days of the internet, a business may have been targeted by a disgruntled employee seeking revenge, by a malicious group with viewpoints opposed to the mission of the organization, or by a kitty scripter just to see if it could be done. Today, DDoS attacks are most likely a diversion for more malicious activities, such as installing ransomware for a future cyberattack or stealing customer information in the background while your team is busy attempting to sort malicious from legitimate network traffic.

How Do DDoS Attacks Work?

Understanding the how can help identify vulnerabilities in your network that need to be addressed to prevent future attacks. Toward that end, there are multiple types of DDoS attacks targeting different OSI layers and therefore different kinds of damage. There are traffic attacks, bandwidth attacks, protocol attacks, email attacks and application attacks to name just a few. Going back to the early days of the internet, it would take significant time and resources for a threat actor to build a botnet of the size and scope needed to bring an enterprise to its digital knees. These days, anyone with a grudge or financial motivation can purchase a ready-made botnet on the dark web, complete with amplification and flooding tools that exponentially increase requests and data volumes. Now, it only takes one savvy threat actor to decide to bring down your network; protecting yourself has become a difficult task and no one, not even Wikipedia, is immune.

How to Prevent A DDoS Attack

If you have to ask, what do we do now? then it's too late. If you don't have a DDoS response plan, make one.

Common steps in developing a plan include:

  • Documenting the steps required to shut down and restart the network.
  • Implementing stringent data back-up/recovery protocols.
  • Knowing the vendors and ISP service provider contacts to be notified immediately in the event of an attack.
  • Having a back-up ISP at the ready to re-route data.

Next, consider hardening your network's security. Most businesses today build their network architecture banking on proactive resources to keep their networks safe. Front-end hardware is installed to screen inbound traffic before it reaches a server and block threatening packets. Rate limiting thresholds are established. Load balancing is used to distribute requests across multiple resources. AI self-learning capabilities are implemented to recognize DDoS code patterns and to identify future mutations.

For organizations with legacy network infrastructure, ramp up your basic security efforts. Shutting off all network traffic during an attack is a mistake, as you may be tossing the baby out with the bathwater. Rather, install anti-DDoS software to filter legitimate from suspicious traffic; several packages are available commercially and through cloud/ISP service providers. Network firewalls and routers remain your initial line of defense. It's critical that the access control lists (ACLs) on firewalls are properly configured to block unauthorized requests in addition to updating the device with the latest firmware updates. Ensure all IoT devices on your network have trusted security software backed by strong password policies to prevent them from being hijacked into a botnet. Finally, consider migrating to the cloud. Allow third party providers to provide backup while monitoring activity, detecting security threats and isolating or redirecting suspicious data before it reaches your servers.

As an ISP with DDoS threat detection built into our services, let us show you how to keep a step ahead of threat actors and to ensure your business operations continue to run at peak performance.

Network Security White Paper

White Paper

With the rapid adoption of new technologies like the cloud, businesses large and small can no longer afford to ignore this surge. While fraudulent activity will continue to become more sophisticated, you can still prepare your company by simply educating yourself on the types of threats out there.

Download the White Paper