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Protect Against a DDoS Attack

By Barbara Beauregard   |    November 21, 2016   |    10:25 AM

  

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks can paralyze a network for days, damaging a company's reputation, freezing online services and costing countless dollars in lost sales. 

Even the most well-structured networks are susceptible to modern DDoS attacks. To make sure your business is safe, consider the following.

What Is a DDoS Attack?

Essentially, distributed denial-of-service attacks seek to render a machine or network resource unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from numerous sources. The attack is analogous to multiple people crowding an entryway to prevent legitimate parties from entering.

Attackers start by building networks of infected computers by spreading malicious software through websites, emails and social media. Once infected, these computers are used like an army to launch an attack against a specific target. This attack can be generated in several ways, such as sending vast amounts of random data that exhaust a target’s bandwidth or sending too many connection requests for the server to handle.

Reducing Your Risk

Defending against a DDoS attack is no easy matter. Some have compared the process to defending against a four-on-one fast break in basketball. A determined DDoS attack can overwhelm even the most sophisticated private or federal networks. That said, there are a few things you can do to mitigate the negative effects.

  • Recognize the signals. Early recognition can go a long way toward heading off an aggressive DDoS attack. That said, it's not always easy to distinguish an attack from normal spikes in web traffic. Invest in the right expertise and technology. You may also want to consult with an anti-DDoS service if possible.

  • Contact your ISP. If your business is experiencing a DDoS attack, your ISP is likely to feel the effects. Contact the ISP to see if it can detect the attack and re-route your traffic. When selecting an ISP, ask about specific DDoS protective services and consider setting up a backup ISP just in case.

  • Develop your threat intel. Make sure you understand the potential indicators of an attack. Determine which vectors are most popular. Find out how your peers and competitors respond to attacks. Join your local ISAC and take advantage of the threat intel service providers to better understand the source of threats and attacks.

  • Choose the right tools. Make sure you have standard signature-based routers and firewalls to reject known bad traffic. Consider utilizing a cloud-based anti-DDoS solution to divert or filter malicious traffic. You should also look into load balancers, which create additional network availability by balancing traffic across several servers within a defined network.