10 proven strategies to protect your website and block DDoS attacks
DDoS – Distributed Denial of Service, a cyber-attack that targets systems and disrupts the network, ultimately denying service to end-users. It employs multiple malware-infected systems to target a single machine. The world’s biggest DDoS attack incident was against GitHub – a memcached amplification attack. It peaked at 1.35 TB/s of data targeting the servers. The biggest advantage to amplification attackers is that this malicious spell only involves a limited amount of bandwidth to launch larger attacks on victims. It causes greater harm than a direct attack.
In a DNS amplification attack, the attacker exploits a compromised or badly configured domain and turns small packets of data into a much larger payload. Ultimately, it is used against the victim, bringing the entire server down. Another type of DDoS attack is the volumetric denial of service. The attacker bombards an IP address with large volumes of traffic and authentic traffic is then unable to contact the server, hence, making the website unavailable.
On the other hand, in a flood attack, a network of servers is flooded with queries that require processing via victim machines. Scripts run on compromised systems that are usually a part of a botnet. Ultimately, victim servers’ assets like CPU, or hard-drive memory, is exhausted.
Early threat detection can save companies from these losses. In this article, we have discussed ways to protect websites from powerful DDoS attacks.
Tips to Prevent DDoS Attacks
Relevant resources for protection and a defense plan are important to fight against DDoS. An integrated strategy is needed to protect the networking infrastructure at all levels. It has to be pre-planned because when DDoS hits, you have no time to think and make arrangements.
Here are 10 proven strategies to protect your website against these malicious cyber-attacks.
#1. Craft a DDoS Battle Response Plan
The first step towards crafting a cohesive defense strategy is planning your response beforehand. It is only then that you will be able to minimize the impact and save yourself a lot of time taken to recover. Your initial defense strategy just when DDoS hits can define how it will end. Therefore, ensure your team is aware of the responsibilities and your data center is well-prepared.
#2. Leverage the Cloud
Unlike private networks, a cloud has far more bandwidth and resources. When the magnitude of DDoS attacks increases, relying only on on-premises hardware might not be a good idea. There are multiple advantages of adopting cloud-based services that can be a game-changer.
- Cloud-based applications can detect harmful traffic even before it hits where it intends to
- Such services are provided by professionals (software engineers) dedicated to monitor and protect against DDoS tactics
Depending on the nature of your business and the industry you belong to, you can choose the type of cloud-based services to outsource. A hybrid cloud model allows convenience, security and flexibility especially if the dealer provides customized solutions.
#3. Shield your Infrastructure
Standard networking equipment generally offers limited DDoS mitigation options. The best practice is to outsource. Companies on a budget can also benefit from the lower costs calculated on a pay-per-use basis for cloud-based solutions.
Securing network infrastructure involves advanced prevention with VPN, firewalls, load balancing, content filter and anti-spam systems. Using all the tools helps detect traffic inconsistencies and block the attack.
#4. Build a Redundant Network
It is a proven security strategy to create redundant network resources. In this way, when a server is attacked, other components can handle the extra traffic. Also, try locating the different servers in different geographical places so that it is more difficult for attackers to target the system.
#5. Protect DNS Servers
An attacker can take your web servers offline through a compromised DNS server. Practicing redundancy and placing the servers in multiple data centers with load balancers works wonders. Besides, you can consult a cloud-based DNS provider who offers high bandwidth and multiple points of presence around the globe, thus increasing the distance and making the infrastructure difficult to break through.
#6. Spread Awareness about the Warning Signs
It is important to understand early signs to create a legit security plan. Make your team aware, draw training sessions and coordinate with them for the battle plan. Some easily spotted signs of DDoS attacks include network slowdown, intermittent website shutdown or shady connectivity on the intranet.
While no network is perfect and requires regular checks, it should be noted that declined performance for a prolonged period means your network is likely under attack. It might be the right time to take relevant actions.
#7. Understand the Difference between Normal and Abnormal Traffic
Rate limiting is a practiced tool to analyze whether elevated levels of traffic are legitimate and if the host can handle bulk traffic without disturbing the website’s availability. Advanced techniques involve analyzing individual packets to accept only the traffic that is legitimate. You need to have a better understanding of what good traffic is to compare each packet with the baseline.
#8. Do Not Rely on Thresholds
Traffic monitoring and thresholds do allow for recognizing traffic spikes but these are not enough to enable you to distinguish between good and bad traffic. Similarly, only seeing a spike won’t block out the bad traffic. It must be understood that threshold limits and monitoring are not protection techniques, rather tools of identification. Negligence may result in letting small sub-saturating attacks go unnoticed by threshold triggers which may lead to larger hits.
#9. “Only larger Volumetric Attacks are Problematic” is a Clear Myth!
Assuming and focusing on only the large-scale attacks is deceiving. DDoS attacks are evolving and attackers are becoming shrewder. Generally, the objective is not only to cripple a website but also, distract the security staff with a sub-saturating DDoS attack. It is usually the first hit for even wicked network infiltrations like ransomware.
Such attacks may only last for five minutes and are smaller in volume so they can easily dodge and go under the radar without being detected by the threshold – not even mitigated by traffic monitors.
#10. Keep Your System Updated
Finally, ensure that your systems and network resources are up-to-date. Outdated systems are prone to be compromised. Distributed Denial of Service attackers find loopholes in such infrastructure and that’s where the problem starts. It is recommended to re-engineer your network model regularly and install and update software.
Threats, attacks and risk landscape continues to grow as attackers have become more sophisticated. However, so are security technologies progressing each day. It is important to stay updated with the latest hits in the industry, plan your defense mechanism beforehand, and shield your system with updated tools.
About the Author
Drritiman Boraah is the VP of Customer Engineering at Lavelle Networks, which offers a truly scalable SD-WAN solution. He firmly believes that no dream is too big if you truly believe in it. You can connect with him here.
- Hakin9 is a monthly magazine dedicated to hacking and cybersecurity. In every edition, we try to focus on different approaches to show various techniques - defensive and offensive. This knowledge will help you understand how most popular attacks are performed and how to protect your data from them. Our tutorials, case studies and online courses will prepare you for the upcoming, potential threats in the cyber security world. We collaborate with many individuals and universities and public institutions, but also with companies such as Xento Systems, CATO Networks, EY, CIPHER Intelligence LAB, redBorder, TSG, and others.
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