Organizations need to take steps to protect themselves from DDoS attacks. These include investing in secure network infrastructure, implementing layers of defense such as firewalls and intrusion prevention systems, monitoring their networks for unusual activity, and having an incident response plan in place in case of an attack.
What is a DDoS attack?
DDoS attacks are getting more common and increasingly harder to mitigate, as the attackers develop more sophisticated ways to conduct the attacks.
What is the difference between DDoS and DoS?
Additionally, DoS attacks can be easier to defend against than DDoS attacks as the attack vector is limited and fewer points require protection.
How does a DDoS attack work?
The attacker will usually use a range of computers to generate these requests and make them appear legitimate. This means that even if the origin of the attack is detected, it is difficult to hold the attackers accountable as they are not directly responsible for the malicious traffic.
Anatomy of DDoS attacks
During DDoS attacks, several vectors are used to disrupt the organization’s natural traffic. The three more common vectors are:
- TCP Ack (transmission control protocol acknowledgment)
- TCP Syn (transmission control protocol synchronized)
- DNS Amp (domain name system amplification)
The main way DDoS attacks work is through botnets. The attackers will hack computers and install bots on them, that is code or malware. Then they use these bots to form an infected network called botnets. With this network formed by computers distributed across countries and continents, the cyber attackers will then overwhelm the victim’s servers and disrupt their services.
What are botnets?
The computers in the botnet are usually split across multiple countries and continents, making it difficult for authorities to identify and shut down the source of the attack.
Botnets can also be used for other nefarious activities such as sending spam emails, stealing data, or committing fraud.
Types of DDoS attacks
Despite having many types of DDoS attacks, they are classified according to the network connection layers they target into three main categories:
- Volume-Based or Volumetric Attacks. The goal of this type of DDoS is to increase bandwidth between the victim and the larger internet. They usually work through a DNS Amp vector that amplifies the attacker’s small query. An example of a Volumetric Attack is the DNS amplification attack.
- Protocol Attacks. This type of attack consumes the available capacity of web servers, including its firewall. Most protocol attacks use TCP Syn vector to overwhelm the victim’s server with internet requests. An example of a Protocol Attack is the SYN Flood.
- Application-Layer Attacks. This type of attack works as if the web page is being constantly refreshed. As a consequence, the server has to handle more processes than it usually does. An example of an Application-Layer Attack is an HTTP flood attack.
How to identify a DDoS attack
The most commons symptoms to identify a DDoS attack:
- Unavailable web page
- Unexpected spikes in traffic
- Odd hours of the day spikes of traffic
- Slower page load time
- Inability to access certain web pages or services
- An unexplained surge in requests to a single page or endpoint
- The web server is unresponsive for no apparent reason
- Timeouts when attempting to connect to the affected resource
- Multiple connections from multiple IP addresses that don’t normally visit the website or application
- Unexplained increase in requests from a single source or geolocation
- Unusual traffic patterns as regular spikes of traffic
What are the motivations for DDoS attacks?
Since the attacks can be random and as many companies welcome traffic spikes, it’s nearly impossible to prevent a DDoS attack. Because of it, an incident response plan is the best way to prevent further damage during a distributed denial-of-service attack.
What to do after a DDoS attack?
3. Mitigate the attack
After that, as you contain the flood on your page, you must take proactive steps to eliminate the threat and regain control over your server.
How to mitigate DDoS attacks?
Enterprises and organizations must take a few actions to mitigate a distributed denial-of-service attack.
1. Risk assessment
2. Traffic differentiation
Try to identify the source of the bad traffic generated by the bots. Since you can’t shut down all the traffic, as you may lose real clients and users, you can share the attack traffic across a network of distributed servers.
3. Black hole routing
You can mitigate the attack by creating a black hole route. This will push traffic into the black hole. However, in this strategy, all traffic, both good and bad, is affected and routed to a null route and dropped from the network.
4. Rate Limiting
One more way to mitigate DDoS is by limiting the number of requests a server can accept within a specific time frame. Even though this can’t prevent more sophisticated attacks, you can block most of them.
Many enterprises apply Web Application Firewall (WAF) as a security measure. It acts as a reverse proxy as it works between the company’s servers and the internet setting rules to filter requests.
How Proven Data can help you
Proven Data offers cybersecurity services to help you protect your servers, website, and data. Contact an expert 24/7 to request a quote and guarantee extra protection for your business.