A massive DDoS attack hits your server. Your basic security systems fail to identify it and respond on time. Suddenly, your business is down for hours. You are losing untold amounts of traffic and lll is quiet on the revenue-front.
You don't have to look any further than last year's Dyn incident to see how your business could be reduced to an entity trying to rebuild its reputation and pipeline.
In a single weekend, the worst distributed denial of service attack in history crashed the world’s largest internet services. Twitter, Reddit, The New York Times, and PayPal were just some of the major sites that went down due to attack.
The reported damage from this malicious attack for Dyn was a loss of 8% of its business. The harshness of the message sent to digital businesses was immeasurable.
Denial of service attacks are here to stay and no business can afford to be unprotected.
While most companies never experience an attack of this scale, they all start the similar way. They often come stealthily and, without early threat detection and traffic profiling systems, it’s impossible to know they’re here. In fact, chances are you’ll know about it only when your website or application crashes.
This is especially true for sophisticated attacks, which use blended approach and target multiple levels simultaneously.
To give you a picture, here is a shockingly realistic video of a major DDoS attack taking place:
The video opens up a whole new perspective on DDoS data protection, doesn’t it?
It illustrates the possible severity of an attack and also sheds light on the systems that you need to have in place to defend. And the sad reality is the average strength of DDoS attacks continues to grow.
According to Verisign Q1 DDoS Trends Report, the average peak attack size increased 26% in the reported period. A related study from Neustar suggests that such an attack can cost a company more than $250,000 per hour at risk. Besides this, reputational damage can be irremediable and consumer trust irrevocably lost.
That’s why strengthening your capabilities to combat DDoS is key to keeping your business operational and efficient. Below are some of the recommendations to achieve so.
DDoS Protection Best Practices to Prevent Attacks
The evolution of DDoS attacks shows no signs of slowing. They keep growing in volume and frequency, today most commonly involving a “blended” or “hybrid” approach.
These attacks target data, applications, and infrastructure simultaneously to increase the chances of success. To fight them, you need a battle plan, as well as reliable DDoS prevention and mitigation solutions. You need an integrated security strategy that protects all infrastructure levels. Below are some of the industry best practices to develop it.
1. Develop an all-around Denial of Service response plan.
When DDoS hits, there is no time to think about the best steps to take. They need to be defined in advance to enable prompt reactions and avoid any impacts.
Developing an incident response plan is the critical first step toward comprehensive defense strategy. Depending on the infrastructure, a DDoS response plan can get quite exhaustive. Still, its key elements remain the same for any company and they include:
- Form a response team. Define responsibilities for key team members to ensure organized reaction to the attack as it happens.
- Define notification and escalation procedures. Make sure your team members know exactly who to contact in case of the attack.
- Include the list of internal and external contacts that should be informed about the attack. You should also develop communication strategies for your customers, hosting provider, ISPs, and any security vendors.
The first step you take when a malicious attack happens can define how it will end. Make sure your data center is prepared and your team is aware of their responsibilities. That way, you can minimize the impact on your business and save yourself months of recovery.
2. Monitor for unusual activity
Early threat detection is one of the most efficient ways to prevent the attack. Denial of service can come in multiple forms and it is critical to recognize its most common telltale. Any dramatic slowdown in network performance or increase in the number of spam emails can be a sign of an intrusion. These should be addressed as soon as they are noticed, even if deviations do not look that important at first.
Businesses also need to understand their equipment’s capabilities to identify both network-layer and application-layer attacks. If you do not have these resources in-house, you may want to work with your ISP, data center, or security vendor to get advanced protection resources.
With proper systems to detect and react to all types of attacks, you already set your business for successful defense.
3. Secure your network infrastructure.
Optimum network security can only be achieved with multi-level protection strategies in place. This includes advanced intrusion prevention and threat management systems, which combine firewals, VPN, anti-spam, content filtering, load balancing, and other layers of defense. Together they enable constant and consistent network protection to prevent DDoS attack from happening. This includes everything from identifying possible traffic inconsistencies with the highest level of precision to blocking the attack.
Most of the standard network equipment comes with limited DDoS mitigation options, so you may want to outsource some of the additional services. With cloud-based solutions, you can access advanced DDoS mitigation and protection resources on a pay-per-use basis. This is an excellent option for small and medium-sized businesses that may want to keep their security budgets within projected limits.
In addition to this, you should also make sure your systems are up-to-date. Outdated systems are usually the ones with most loopholes. Denital of Sercice attackers simply love loopholes. By regularly patching your infrastructure and installing new software versions, you can close more doors to the attackers.
Given the complexity of DDoS attacks, there's hardly a way to defend against them without appropriate systems to identify anomalies in traffic and provide instant response. Backed by secure infrastructure and a battle-plan, such systems can minimize the threat. More than that, they can bring the needed peace of mind and confidence to everyone from a sys admin to CEO.
How to Plan for Protection in Mid-Market Companies and Enterprise
DDoS mitigation strategies in mid-market companies and enterprise usually involve more intricate systems than those for smaller businesses.
Since these segments tend to rely on legacy systems and hybrid environment, they need to expand internal security teams to address a greater variety of emerging challenges. In combination with in-house expertise, the following DDoS protection and mitigation strategies are most effective in combating DDoS.
- Planning. Develop a DDoS prevention plan based on a thorough security assessment. Unlike smaller companies, larger businesses require complex infrastructure and involving multiple teams in DDoS planning.
- Vendor choice. Larger companies may need to work with multiple vendors to ensure they comply with the highest data security and DDoS protection standards. Before committing to any third-party security services, check your vendor’s reputation and credibility to minimize any risks.
- Infrastructure setup and configuration. Deciding on the right environment for data and applications will differ between companies and industries. Hybrid environments can be convenient for achieving the right balance between security and flexibility, especially with vendors providing tailor-made solutions.
- Systems checklist. Develop a full list of assets you should implement to ensure advanced threat identification, assessment, and filtering tools, as well as security-enhanced hardware and software-level protection is in place.
One of the great resources for building a secure infrastructure is DDoS-as-a-Service.
It provides improved flexibility for environments that combine in-house and third party resources, or cloud and dedicated servers. At the same time, DDoS-as-a-Service ensures that all the security infrastructure components meet the highest security standards and compliance requirements. The key benefit of this model is the ability of tailor-made security architecture for the needs of a particular company, making the high-level DDoS protection available to businesses of any size.
In Conclusion Be PrePared For denial of Service attacks
DDoS attacks are painfully real and are no longer big guys' problem only. Small and medium-sized companies are increasingly the targets. This trend has sparked an even greater demand for multi-layered security solutions that can provide full protection of sensitive workloads.
And while the threat landscape continues to develop, so do security technologies. Following that trend, we recently released the fourth phase of DDoS enhancements for all our services. We will be increasing our focus on educated businesses on the most common cyber threats and best security strategies to defend.
Ready to take the next step and ensure business continuity? Contact our cloud security experts to find out more and stop the next DDoS attack from happening to your business.