In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which may have devastating impacts on businesses. Organizations need to have an efficient DDoS attacks prevention strategy to avoid network or server unavailability. Such attacks can be lethal for the simple reason that they allow hackers to overload your server or network with fake and irrelevant traffic. This might freeze your services, resulting in downtime. If you do not want your business to be affected by DDoS attacks, read this article to find out how you can prevent them.

What is a DDoS attack?  

A DDoS attack is a kind of cyber-attack that freezes your network, service, or server by bombarding it with fake traffic. It often becomes challenging for actual users to access the system. This happens because the attackers send large packets or requests to the targeted system, leading to a crash or downtime. Irrespective of your business size or type, DDOS attacks are a risk to every organization. The following are a few industries that are at a high risk of such attacks.

  • Ecommerce websites.
  • IT services.
  • Finance institutions.
  • Government organizations.
  • Web gaming and gambling companies.

How to prevent DDoS attacks?

Minimize the surface area: One of the most basic strategies to prevent DDoS attacks is to reduce the surface area that is a hot target for attackers. This strategy restricts the available options for the attackers and allows organizations to create strong protection in a single place. One should not unveil the applications, servers, or networks to ports or protocols that refuse to communicate. It will limit all the possible attack points and let you focus on DDoS attack prevention. The following are two key ways that can help reduce the attack surface area.

  • You can implement Content Distribution Networks (CDNs) or Load Balancers to hide your resources. It will help limit your internet traffic to sensitive parts of your infrastructure like your database servers.
  • You can implement Firewalls or Access Control Lists to define which traffic reaches your applications or servers.

Have a scalable plan: Every organization must have a scalable DDoS protection plan to secure its network or servers. Any organization’s ability to identify the attacks quickly will help minimize the damage done. The following are two primary considerations that can limit large-scale volumetric DDoS attacks by absorbing them.

  • Bandwidth or transit capacity: While designing the applications, security architects must ensure that the preferred hosting provider has enough redundant internet connectivity to manage high-volume traffic. Because the core purpose of DDoS attacks is to freeze servers or applications, which affects the system’s availability. Hence, increasing the bandwidth or transit capacity allows a large volume of internet exchanges that will result in the availability of the system to the end-user despite large traffic. Additionally, implementing Content Distribution Networks (CDNs) and advanced Domain Name System (DNS) providers will add an extra network infrastructure level. This additional level of network infrastructure will help end-users access content and solve DNS queries from a closer location.
  • Server capacity: A majority of the DDoS attacks today are volumetric, which means it consumes a lot of resources. Thus, you must scale up or down your computation resources immediately as per requirement. The most efficient way to prevent volumetric DDoS attacks is by implementing advanced computation resources or network interfaces to manage larger volumes. Furthermore, implementing load balancers will help track and shift loads between servers to avoid overload on one specific server.

Distinguish between normal and abnormal traffic: Rate limiting is a DDoS prevention process that tracks the highest volume of traffic that hits the host. It also includes calculating the baseline of how much traffic your server can handle without hampering availability. There are various advanced firewalls and intrusion detection systems that are integrated with Artificial Intelligence (AI). These advanced DDoS attack protection tools will redirect the traffic to the cloud for analysis. Such systems can identify the characteristics of legitimate traffic and compare each packet with the baseline. As a result, AI helps spot malicious traffic hitting the target to block them and analyze their patterns.

Implement the best DDoS prevention tools: One of the most efficient ways to prevent DDoS attacks is to implement the best web application firewall against SQL injections or cross-site request forgery attacks. Such attacks have unique characteristics that can identify and customize a mitigation plan. The illegitimate request hitting your servers will have unique characteristics like good traffic or incoming traffic from bad IPs, unidentified geographies, etc. Security architects should study the traffic patterns to design customized DDoS protection strategies.

Cloud transformation: Another efficient way to prevent DDoS attacks is to outsource protection to cloud providers. A majority of the best cloud providers implement advanced cybersecurity tools such as firewalls and threat monitoring tools to prevent your servers or application from such attacks. Moreover, cloud providers usually have a higher bandwidth or transit capacity than a private cloud server. Additionally, cloud providers deliver network redundancies and back up data on different secure servers. As a result, if servers are corrupted or unavailable due to DDoS attacks, one can switch to a secure server.

Organizations can choose from the following types of cloud DDoS protection available:

  • On-demand cloud DDoS mitigation: Cloud providers activate this service when internal teams identify a threat. In case of a DDoS breach, the provider will transfer all the traffic to cloud servers to avoid application unavailability.
  • Always on cloud DDoS prevention: Cloud providers ensure that all your traffic is routed through the cloud with such protection strategies. Such DDoS prevention techniques are best for organizations or businesses that cannot afford downtime.

Spot the warning signs: Network security teams need to keep an eye on the traits of DDoS attacks to spot them in real-time and take quick action on them to minimize the damage. The following are a few common signs of such attacks that your network security teams should be aware of:

  • Poor connection.
  • Demand spike for a particular page or endpoint.
  • Illegitimate incoming traffic from a particular group of IP addresses.
  • A high volume of visitors from common geolocation, web browsers, or profiles.

Network security teams should also be able to identify low-risk attacks because not all attackers will attack the system with a high traffic volume. They might send low-volume traffic for a shorter time to test the integrity of your system. This breach test can be more catastrophic because it might lead to security breaches like ransomware attacks. Hence, network security teams should be able to spot even the slightest risk to avoid a full-blown DDoS attack.

Assess your network: One of the most efficient ways to stop DDoS attacks is to spot your weaknesses before the attackers do. It is essential to do a network or server vulnerability test and audits to spot the security exposures or vulnerabilities. The most effective way to do this is to track the inventory of all the devices on that network. Additionally, your network security team should have information and the purpose of the device with vulnerabilities linked with them. Moreover, they should be aware of all the upgrades a system or device may need in the future. It will help the security architect analyze the level of risk or threat to the organization’s network to make strategic investments related to network security. As a result, the security architects will be able to patch the exposure areas in real-time to minimize cyber security threats.

Wrapping it up  

A few experts predict that there might be a substantial increase in the number of DDoS attacks up to 15.4 million by 2023. The numbers are worrying because every business will be a victim of these attacks at some point. The above-mentioned strategies will help protect your business from all types of DDoS attacks.