Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks aren’t like other types of cyber-attacks. They don’t spread malware into your network, and they don’t directly hijack sensitive data or steal from bank accounts. However, the financial and reputational damage caused by DDoS can be devastating to your business. They are also one of the most difficult types of cyber-attacks to defend against.
DDoS Attacks are Easy and Inexpensive to Launch
Hackers use the DDoS attack vector because it is easy, cheap and effective. Many target Domain Name Servers (DNS), a core application essential to website accessibility. Groups like Anonymous use DDoS attacks as political statements, purposely disrupting web traffic as a form of protest. Hackers also use DDoS as a diversion, putting attention on the shuttered websites while proceeding with a more devastating cyber-attack elsewhere in the system.
DDoS attacks have increased 85 percent in each of the past two years. The costs of a DDoS attack are skyrocketing, as well, costing companies more than $2 million every time they are hit. Hackers are also taking advantage of new technology. In 2016, they infected Internet of Things (IoT) devices with the Mirai botnet, which, when activated, overwhelmed DNS provider Dyn and took down hundreds of popular websites.
3 Common DDoS Attacks
Hackers have a variety of methods to deploy DDoS attacks, but most cybersecurity experts put the attacks into three classifications:
- Volumetric – The goal of volumetric attacks is to overwhelm an organization’s bandwidth so others can’t access it. The most common DDoS attack in this category is the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) Flood. Volumetric attacks make up the majority of DDoS attacks.
- Protocol – Protocol attacks focus on weaknesses in the protocol. SYN Flood, which targets the way systems “speak” to each other to open connections, is the most widely used of these attacks.
- Application – Application attacks hit weaknesses in specific applications rather than target the entire server. Focused on exploiting vulnerabilities in individual applications, these attacks use fewer resources than other types. Slowloris is a popular type of application attack, targeting web servers.
Mitigating DDoS Attacks
According to a study by Neustar and Harris Interactive, nine in ten companies are bumping up their DDoS defenses in the next year in response to the rise in attacks. While it is next to impossible to prevent DDoS attacks, there are steps organizations can take to make it more difficult to completely disrupt a website. As Rachel Kartch explained in an SEI blog post, the following four steps will help you mitigate a DDoS attack:
- Ensure the architecture is resilient by dispersing data assets in multiple locations and networks. This allows for business continuity in any type of disaster.
- Use hardware, like firewalls and load balancers, validated for their ability to block or mitigate DDoS attacks.
- Scale up bandwidth as much as you can afford. The more bandwidth available, the more likely you can slow down if not stave off an attack.
- Outsource DDoS security to a provider experienced in dealing with these attacks.
DDoS attacks are hard to defend or anticipate. It’s vital to build a DDoS attack plan of action into any security policy, but it is equally important to have the tools in place to limit any outage.
With our comprehensive security services, OneNeck’s security experts can custom-tailor a security solution specific to your exact business needs, helping you secure and mitigate threats to your applications and infrastructure.