Nowadays, businesses from most industries have gone digital in one way or another, be it a website, an online store, or an internal system for running everyday operations. The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up this process, causing companies to expedite their plans and go digital as soon as possible. However, any online properties you might have are under constant threat by DDoS attacks. This type of cyber attack has been a major threat to businesses worldwide for almost two decades now.
Unfortunately, as technology and security measures have evolved over the years, so have DDoS attacks as well. Hackers today can execute such attacks with relative ease and to a devastating effect. As a business owner, you need to be mindful of this threat and implement measures to detect, prevent, and mitigate it.
In this article, we will take a look at what a DDoS attack is, how it operates, and what you can do to prepare your business for it.
What Is a DDoS Attack?
A DDoS attack attempts to take down a server by overloading it with fake traffic. Hackers use networks of bots (also known as botnets) to generate a massive amount of requests to the target. Since servers try to process each and every request, they are soon overwhelmed by the fake traffic. As a result, the target is unable to process actual requests from real users, essentially making it unusable.
DDoS attacks are a favorite tool of hackers worldwide since they are easy to execute and quite effective in doing major damage. Such attacks are perfect for taking down websites or disrupting business operations — both of which can have serious consequences for any company.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself from DDoS Attacks?
Over the last decade, DDoS attacks have grown exponentially in terms of frequency and efficiency. This was made possible by the increased global interconnectivity and the mass proliferation of IoT (Internet of Things) devices worldwide. The latter can be easily hijacked and used as bots that can generate terabytes in fake traffic. Businesses have been playing catch-up when it comes to cybersecurity, since dealing with modern DDoS attacks can be nigh impossible.
However, there are some ways for you to prepare your business for a DDoS attack. Keep in mind that there is no all-in-one security solution that will protect you from such attacks. Instead, you need to invest in a multi-pronged approach and a complex security stack.
Let’s take a look at some practical tips that will help your business detect and mitigate DDoS attacks effectively.
Improve Network Security
While software solutions alone are not enough to deal with DDoS attacks, they are an essential component in any security stack. Even though you probably have some security software tools installed in your network, you need to seriously consider upgrading them and adding more to the mix. For example, real-time monitoring and alert systems that scan all incoming traffic are extremely important for DDoS detection and prevention.
Make sure you have the following components installed and make sure you regularly upgrade and update them.
- Anti-malware software
- Anti-virus software
- Network monitoring solutions
Since modern DDoS attacks involve gigantic volumes of data, you need to invest in security solutions that make use of big data and cloud technologies.
Upgrade Your Server Infrastructure
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to network architecture is to only rely on a single server. If a DDoS attack manages to take your only server down, your entire infrastructure will follow. The best way to prepare yourself for such a situation is to have multiple servers set up in different data centers. If traffic is equally spread across a number of servers and one of them gets taken down, your system will be able to continue functioning using the unaffected ones.
When it comes to server infrastructure, make sure you follow best practices. Avoid security hazards such as single points of failure and network bottlenecks that can be easily exploited by hackers.
Buy More Bandwidth
DDoS attacks work by overloading your server with fake traffic. If the server’s capacity is low, taking it down with DDoS can be quite easy. However, if you invest in increased bandwidth, your server will be able to handle more traffic and sudden increases in requests will not overwhelm it. Of course, it all depends on the level of bandwidth that the hacker is targeting you with.
In any case, more bandwidth will definitely make your server more resistant to DDoS hacks. Upgrading this aspect of your infrastructure is a simple and relatively effective way to increase your DDoS preparedness.
Establish a DDoS Response Plan and Team
While improving and upgrading your infrastructure is important, none of those efforts will be effective unless you and your IT staff are ready to act. Coming up with a comprehensive DDoS response plan is key to being prepared for a potential attack. You need to go over all elements of your network infrastructure, assess their level of security, and identify potential risks. A DDoS response plan needs to include processes and procedures in case an attack occurs, as well as mitigation strategies and reporting.
Depending on the size of your business, you might want to establish a separate DDoS response team. With clearly defined roles, a chain of command, and escalation procedures, your staff will be ready to act on time in accordance with your DDoS response plan.
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