DDoS attacks can be catastrophic for any business, organization, or institution. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyber attacks can force a business into downtime for up to 12 hours. In 2016 The Ponemon Institute found that the average cost of falling victim will set back an organization over $740,000. Some statistics even estimate that a business may lose up to $350,000 per hour of downtime; since a DDoS attack can leave a business in a stand-still for hours, it can result in immense amounts of lost revenue.
No business can afford to be unprepared for such a debilitating attack. Below are 5 of the best ways to protect your business from this damage.
What is a DDoS Attack?
A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack operates like its name implies; it’s a form of cyber attack that disrupts connectivity or network services to deny service for users. Attacks generally feature tools, such as a bot, that overwhelm the network with repeated signals until it can no longer process genuine requests from users.
Hackers frequently target critical services such as web services and platforms that are often used by large businesses, banks, governments, and educational institutions. There are multiple forms of DDoS attacks, including volumetric attacks, amplification-layer attacks, and protocol attacks. While they differ in how they inflict damage, all three approaches can attack a victim on multiple fronts to completely overwhelm their infrastructure and applications.
What Happens During a DDoS Attack?
Cybercriminals perform their DDoS attacks by sending out malicious code to hundreds or even thousands of computers, instructing each one to send requests to a single organization. This is usually accomplished through tools, such as a botnet. The botnet can be a network of private computers infected with malicious software that is controlled as a group, without the knowledge of each individual owner.
Why Have DDoS Attacks Increased?
If you are not concerned about DDoS attacks yet, you should be. The last year has seen a significant rise in the amount of DDoS attacks, and there is no evidence that they’ll decrease anytime soon.
Global information and technology provider Neustar reported that it found a 168% increase in DDoS attacks in Q4 2019 from Q4 2018. Overall, there was a 180% increase in DDoS attacks in 2019 compared with 2018. The report also found alarming statistics that attack intensity has increased overall as well. In 2019, the largest threat was 31% larger than the largest DDoS attack in 2018, at 587 gigabits per second (Gbps), while the most attack intensity of 2019 at 343 million packets per second (Mpps) was 252% higher than the most intense attack of the previous year.
Neustar predicts that the sudden shift to teleworking due to COVID-19 will only increase DDoS attacks, especially against VPD infrastructure.
As more organizations adopt internet-connected devices, cybercriminals see the opportunities for DDoS attacks, which may explain the rise. The more companies integrate unsecured Internet of Things devices without the right cybersecurity precautions, the more they place themselves at risk and contribute to the rise in DDoS attacks.
5 Tips for DDoS Attack Prevention
Prevention is the best medicine, and this couldn’t be more true for DDoS attacks. Prepare your organization with the following tips to avert a devastating DDoS attack.
1. Organize a DDoS Attack Response Plan. Don’t be caught blindsided by DDoS attacks; have a response plan ready in case of a security breach so your organization can respond as promptly as possible. Your plan should document how to maintain business operations if a DDoS attack is successful, any technical competencies and expertise that will be necessary, and a systems checklist to ensure that your assets have advanced threat detection.
Additionally, establish an incident response team in case the DDoS is successful and define responsibilities, such as notifying key stakeholders and ensuring communication throughout the organization.
2. Secure your Infrastructure with DDoS Attack Prevention Solutions. Equip your network, applications, and infrastructure with multi-level protection strategies. This may include prevention management systems that combine firewalls, VPN, anti-spam, content filtering and other security layers to monitor activities and identity traffic inconsistencies that may be symptoms of DDoS attacks.
If you’re looking for protection by leveraging cloud-based solutions, many providers allow for advanced protection resources for additional charges. Other options allow for businesses to go “full cloud,” entrusting sensitive data with a reputable cloud provider that offers heightened security protocols, both virtual and physical.
3. Perform a Network Vulnerability Assessment. Identify weakness in your networks before a malicious user does. A vulnerability assessment involves identifying security exposures so you can patch up your infrastructure to be better prepared for a DDoS attack, or for any cybersecurity risks in general.
Assessments will secure your network by trying to find security vulnerabilities. This is done by taking inventory of all devices on the network, as well as their purpose, system information, and any vulnerabilities associated with them, and including what devices need to be prepared for upgrades or future assessments. Doing so will help define your organization’s level of risk so you can optimize any security investments.
4. Identify Warning Signs of a DDoS Attack. If you can identify the symptoms of a DDoS attack as early as possible, you can take action and hopefully mitigate damage. Spotty connectivity, slow performance, and intermittent web crashes are all signs that your business may be coming under attack from a DDoS criminal. Educate your team on signs of DDoS attacks so everyone can be alert for warning signs.
Not all DDoS attacks are extensive and high volume; low-volume attacks that launch for short durations are just as common. These attacks can be particularly nefarious because they are more likely to go under the radar as just a random incident rather than a potential security breach. Low-volume DDoS attacks are likely distractions for damaging malware; while your IT security staff is distracted by a low-volume attack, malicious software like ransomware can infiltrate your network.
5. Adopt Cloud-Based Service Providers. There are several benefits to outsourcing DDoS attack prevention to the cloud.
Cloud providers who offer high levels of cybersecurity, including firewalls and threat monitoring software, can help protect your assets and network from DDoS criminals. The cloud also has greater bandwidth than most private networks, so it is likely to fail if under the pressure of increased DDoS attacks.
Additionally, reputable cloud providers offer network redundancy, duplicating copies of your data, systems, and equipment so that if your service becomes corrupted or unavailable due to a DDoS attack, you can switch to secure access on backed-up versions without missing a beat.
Are you interested in the security of a predictable cloud provider and protection from DDoS attacks? Don’t hesitate to contact the experts at DSM to learn more about our cloud services or to schedule a free security vulnerability assessment. And if you intend to go it alone? Remember that the next time you see an influx of traffic signaling a banner day for business, you may be facing a DDoS attack.