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What is a DDoS attack?

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt regular traffic to a server or network. It does so by flooding the target or its surrounding infrastructure with fake internet traffic. DDoS attacks are effective because they make use of numerous compromised computer systems as the attack traffic sources.

DDoS attacks are used by hackers or people with malicious intent to overload a company’s network and servers with information. This can crash the entire system and make e-commerce sites, apps and websites unusable. In turn, this can be hugely costly to companies as they cannot generate revenue from their online platforms nor can employees collaborate on work via internal networks.

Three types of DDoS attack

When a network or server is subjected to a DDoS attack, incoming traffic fluctuates dramatically and unexpectedly. The attack is frequently launched concurrently from a large number of hacked machines from all around the world. DDoS attacks are classified into three types:

  1. Volumetric attack –  This is an attempt to overrun and use up the bandwidth capacity of the server or network by sending a large volume of information through the system. It generates a jam that prevents legitimate and authorised users from accessing the system. 
  2. State exhaustion – This is an attack in which the server’s or network’s processing capacity is entirely consumed, or those of  intermediate communications equipment, such as firewalls. 
  3. Application layer – These attacks target certain features of an application, in particular Layer 7. The attack consists of requests that appear to be valid and benign, but actually crashes the server by overloading finite resources such as disk space or RAM.

How to protect networks from DDos attacks

DDoS attacks can interrupt online business and damage a company’s reputation, whether its applications are hosted in the cloud or in a private data center. Here are some concrete steps you can take to strengthen your company’s security and protect it from DDoS attacks:

  1. Understand the flow of traffic. To determine traffic trends and tendencies, use network and application monitoring technologies. Understanding your company’s typical traffic patterns and features allows you to create a baseline from which to detect anomalous activity, indicative of a DDoS assault. Any abnormal traffic fluctuations can be detected and stopped immediately.
  1. Prepare a limited Plan B defensive position. In the event of a DDoS attack, you need to be able to quickly restore essential platforms and business-critical services. Have a secure backup and restore system in place and ready to be used at all times.
  1. Include cybersecurity in your plans for business continuity, catastrophe recovery and emergency response. DDoS attacks can be as damaging to a business as a natural disaster and should be included in your company’s incident response procedures. To enhance readiness, build run books and perform desktop activities.

DDoS attacks can be harmful to your business in many ways. It is critical to learn how to defend your organisation against cyberattacks and to engage with an experienced service provider who will assist in the prevention and mitigation of these attacks. These companies can offer traffic filtering services that can be used to mitigate DDoS attacks.

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Written by Kate Hawthorne

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