As the frequency of Directed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks continues to rise, businesses are under more pressure than ever before to maintain cutting-edge cybersecurity infrastructures. Cybercriminals are rapidly becoming more persistent and skilled, making DDoS detection and defense a priority for businesses hoping to prevent such an attack.
What is a DDoS attack?
A DDoS cyberattack aims to disrupt or destabilize the normal traffic of a targeted server, service or network by flooding the DDoS target with an overwhelming and disruptive amount of internet traffic.
A cybercriminal carries out a DDoS attack by injecting a machine or a system of machines connected to a server (such as computers or IoT devices) with malware. Together, these devices form a botnet, which the hacker can control remotely.
Typically, every machine in a botnet will be directed by the hacker to send requests to the IP address of a DDoS target, overwhelming the server or network of the target to overflow capacity. This scenario results in a denial-of-service to normal traffic attempting to access the target’s servers or network.
What are the different types of DDoS attacks?
There are a few major types of DDoS attacks:
- Application layer attacks. The seventh layer of a network connection is the human-computer interaction layer, which allows applications to access network services. An application layer DDoS attack specifically attacks this layer, flooding it with HTTP requests and exhausting the resources of the target server. Since malicious floods of HTTP traffic are often difficult to distinguish from benign influxes of traffic, application layer attacks can be difficult to identify and flag. One example is a sudden influx of website visitors when a product or service is mentioned on a live stream with many viewers. Application layer attacks can easy to pull off because many small- and mid-sized businesses don’t have servers capable of dealing with a large number of simultaneous HTTP requests.
- Protocol attacks. Protocol attacks occur when the state table capacity of web application servers or auxiliary elements, such as firewalls and load balancers, are consumed by an influx of “Initial Connection Request” TCP SYN packets.
- Volumetric attacks. Volumetric attacks occur when a hacker uses a form of amplification or a massive traffic generator, such as a botnet, to send a flood of data that consumes all the available bandwidth between the target and the larger internet.
DDoS attacks can happen for any number of reasons. Moreover, DDoS attacks are rapidly increasing in popularity, according to Cisco. DDOS attacks grew by 172 percent in 2016 and are expected to increase to 3.1 million globally by 2021. That’s a 250 percent increase based on the 2016 figures.
More than ever, businesses need to focus on securing themselves against DDoS attacks, as well as on knowing how to detect and handle such attacks.
Protect your business against DDoS attacks
The simplest way for businesses to prevent DDoS attacks is to maintain server and network infrastructures on site. There should be sufficient capacity to absorb DDoS attack-like levels of traffic, in addition to the capability of deciphering the difference between malicious and legitimate requests.
For many businesses, this means investing in more modern server and network equipment that uses technological advancements, such as artificial intelligence (AI), to detect malicious requests. As a caveat, mobile devices continue to rise in popularity and PCs continue to fall. So, finding a DDoS mitigation partner capable of identifying and dealing with mobile DDoS attacks is advisable.
Dealing with DDoS attacks is a more complex than simply buying an up-to-date server or network equipment. For example, advanced equipment can notify an enterprise of a large-volume DDoS attack. But no server is capable of absorbing endless requests from hundreds or even thousands of machines. For this reason, enterprises should invest in security measures, such as black hole routing, a null route for internet traffic, both legitimate and malicious, that can be directed to in the event of a DDoS attack.
Other DDoS attack prevention tips include limiting the number of requests a server will take on at a one time, using a Web Application Firewall to prevent application-level DDoS attacks, and monitoring network traffic or running netstat commands.
To better understand how to win the DDoS war, meeting with a consultant to analyze server and network vulnerabilities is undoubtedly a best practice. To this end, Terrace Consulting provides cutting-edge consulting and technology services to eCommerce business.