DDoS attacks represent a serious, growing cybersecurity threat. Successfully thwarting these malicious assaults seems impossibly difficult, but companies that implement sound defensive security controls can mitigate damage and keep their networks running smoothly.
An overwhelming abundance of poorly-secured IoT devices have come online, and they’ve provided hackers with access to millions of ripe new targets in the process. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are growing in size, frequency, and complexity, with record-breaking numbers coming in oneafterthe other.
Sophisticated botnets that control millions of authentic devices and use distributed peer-to-peer architectures have made it nearly impossible to sort out legitimate user traffic from malicious points of origin. Meanwhile, the proliferation of DDoS-for-hire services has made it easier than ever for hackers and non-hackers alike to execute state-of-the-art attacks with little more than a bitcoin transfer.
Now more than ever, IT professionals must treat DDoS threats as inevitabilities rather than possibilities. Instead of posing the question, “What should we do if we get hit?” today’s IT environment demands that providers furnish proactive answers to the question, “How are we prepared to mitigate the damage from the next DDoS attack?”
The Threat of DDoS
The primary threat posed by distributed denial of service attacks is that of service disruption. DDoS attackers target specific organizations hoping to limit or prevent legitimate users from accessing network resources.
If you’re a SaaS provider, that disruption will surely lead to a loss of customers. But even just seeing your corporate website go down for the duration of a DDoS attack can result in the loss of sales and frustrated users. Moreover, employees can be shut out of email and other critical services, crippling productivity. As a result, DDoS attackers usually achieve their chief objective: monetary loss as a result of service disruptions.
But other consequences exist beyond these disruptions. DDoS attacks can force targeted organizations to spend heavily on expanded web services to serve the increased, illegitimate traffic. And critical data loss can occur when improperly backed up databases are taken offline.
Hackers can also employ DDoS as a diversionary tactic, occupying security systems and IT teams while they execute other hacks. And some hackers even use DDoS attacks to test target security systems, singling out organizations with weak responses for further hacks.
Since DDoS attacks target public-facing web properties and publicly accessible servers using legitimate points of origin (i.e. real, physical devices that have been infected with malware), they can be incredibly difficult to detect and stop. How do you control traffic to a web property that’s meant to be open to all? And how do you tell which traffic is “real” and which is “fake” when botnet-infected devices are using real IP addresses?
Detecting & Mitigating DDoS Attacks
For so many reasons, implementing defensive security controls to tackle a DDoS threat is a major challenge. The difficult truth is that there’s no silver bullet that promises to thwart these attacks. At the end of the day, organizations must find and put into practice whichever network design and deployment strategies best suit their particular needs.
Naturally, the first course of action should be to implement regular audits of service-related network vulnerabilities, maintain up-to-date anti-malware tools, and ensure your firewalls are adequately configured. Deploying multiple instances of network assets within multiple geographical regions will provide redundancy, so that if one instance crashes, another can maintain seamless (if temporarily slower) service.
Most importantly, make sure your security provider has a comprehensive and dedicated DDoS response plan in place. This will include one or more security systems allocated for the discovery and prevention of DDoS traffic. DDoS security systems can be either cloud-based, local/on-premise, or “hybrid,” a combination of the two.
Increasingly, state-of-the-art anti-DDoS solutions like Radware’s DefensePro employ compute-intensive machine learning techniques and user behavior analytics to sniff out illegitimate traffic by detecting and investigating any anomalous behavior. So it’s important for organizations to ensure their networks have enough capacity to support these advanced tactics.
A Trusted Partner
The most effective solution for companies looking to mitigate the risks of DDoS attacks is to partner with a seasoned cybersecurity and networking expert like Turn-key Technologies (TTI).
Over nearly three decades, TTI has helped companies of all sizes design, deploy, manage, and defend their corporate networks from cybersecurity threats like DDoS attacks. Our superior body of industry knowledge and numerous industry certifications make us the perfect partner for any organization looking to protect its networks from the cyberthreats of tomorrow.