Cyberattacks are absolutely malicious and can be an indiscriminate threat to both large enterprises and fledgling businesses. With cybercrime seeing a 542% increase “quarter-over-quarter” since 2018, companies need to be adept at guarding themselves against this palpable threat.
In the wake of the current pandemic, a particular form of cyberattack called the distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) has been on the rise. Organizations that fall victim to a DDoS attack suffer immensely. While recovery from damages sustained in the event of a DDoS attack is possible, prevention is always better than any cure.
Based on my 15 years of first-hand experience in protecting companies and corporations from malicious data breaches, let me tell you what you need to do to ensure the safety and longevity of your valuable data and business.
So, what is a DDoS Attack, in simple words?
A distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS), sometimes referred to as a distributed network attack, disrupts the normal operations of a server, web service, or network by flooding it with artificially generated traffic.
These attacks exploit the capacity limits of networks by flooding them to the point where this traffic clogs access to the site for normal and genuine traffic.
Attackers typically generate such overwhelming traffic using botnets. A botnet is a cloud-based network of compromised computer systems that begin sending requests to a targeted host.
As the site tries to accommodate all these fake requests, it not only ignores genuine requests but also exceeds its bandwidth limit and shuts down as a result. A horrible state to be in!
With the rise of IoT (internet of things), which is a cloud-based network of interconnected devices, generating artificial traffic has become easier than ever for hackers.
Different types of DDoS
DDoS attacks are usually classified into the following three types:
1. Volumetric Attacks
These are aimed at networks to overwhelm their bandwidth limit.
2. Protocol Attacks
These attacks make networks incapable of verifying connections.
3. Application Layer Attacks
Such attacks disable vulnerable applications from providing content to users.
Now that you know a big 'shark' deal about DDoS attacks, what do they do, how do they do, and in what possible forms are they executed? Let's explore their direct connection with the rising internet and cloud-based activity during and post-COVID era.
Increase in DDoS Attacks in the Post-COVID Era
If you are suspicious of the possibility of falling victim to a cyberattack, it is time to revisit your ideologies.
Studies have identified a 180 % increase in cyberattacks in the year 2019 from the preceding year. While DDoS attacks specifically saw an increase of 168% within a span of a year.
Malicious attacks sustained by networks were greater both in their intensity (31% larger than the greatest attack in the preceding year) as well as reach.
The rise of COVID-19 has seen persistent growth in DDoS attacks. With most businesses relying on remote, cloud-based networks, it is inevitable that hackers and cybercriminals would exploit the situation.
A study launched by the Kaspersky firm estimated an 80 percent increase in DDoS attacks in 2020 as compared to the preceding year. Several government departments, the Department of Health and Human Services, educational platforms, and the gaming industry were the most common victims of these attacks.
It is obvious to see the correlation between these industries and the lockdown situation during COVID. However, many other sectors remain equally vulnerable.
Can your company be the next one? In case you are unlucky (or better say unprepared), here's what to expect!
What to Expect in the Aftermath of a DDoS Cyber Attack
Damages sustained by organizations that fall victim to these attacks are overwhelming. Many businesses can be forced into downtime for as long as 12 hours and more. This kind of network inactivity has resulted in losses of up to $250,000 per hour.
As a business owner, nothing precedes the importance of safeguarding your customers’ information and assets against such threats. Few companies can recover from attacks such as the one sustained by JPMorgan Chase that jeopardized the financial accounts of 76 million households in 2014.
With the unbearable damage in front of your eyes, you are surely asking yourself how to avoid the same fate? For your convenience, I've compiled a series of these 5 precautionary steps that can go a long way in protecting your company against a DDoS attack.
5 Tips to Protect Your Company Against DDoS
Here are my 5 pro-tips for you that can help safeguard your business against a DDoS attack and prepare for threats from other kinds of malware.
1. Perform Security-Audits Regularly
Conducting regular audits of your network’s security is the starting point for erecting a durable wall of protection around your company’s system.
As part of these audits, you will have to test your current passwords' difficulty levels, affirm the reliability of your virus protection software, keep tabs on data access points, etc.
2. Enhance System Security with Cloud-based Software and Other Preventive Solutions
Here, you have two options.
You can either choose to go fully cloud by entrusting your data to a reliable cloud provider or leverage a cloud-based security plan.
Likewise, opt for multi-level protection of your infrastructure by incorporating prevention management systems.
These surround your system infrastructure with several security layers including firewalls, VPN, content filtering, anti-spam, etc. More locks, less vulnerability formula!
3. Educate Your Teams on Identifying a DDoS Attack
You must educate your team on how to spot an attack early on.
Remember not every DDoS attack will be blatantly conspicuous, causing immediate shutdowns. Therefore, your security team must be on the lookout for spotty or slow connectivity, sudden crashes, and anything else which is out-of-the-ordinary.
Sometimes DDoS attacks are intentionally designed to be low-volume, especially when the intention is to distract the system before introducing malicious malware for greater damage. Beware!
4. Try Leveraging Content Delivery Networks (CDN)
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a modern solution that shares a load of your traffic by distributing it across multiple servers. These life-saving servers are geographically in proximity to users.
This amazing strategy, thus, undermines the impact caused by a DDoS attack that is aimed at clogging traffic around a single server. Even if one server goes down, the others continue to operate, mitigating the damage from downtime. Smart, right?
5. Be Ready with a Response Plan
While utmost caution is the way to go, one can never assume absolute immunity. You ought to be ready with a response plan and a team to execute the plan at all times.
Your response plan must detail what steps to take in the wake of a successful DDoS attack.
Some initial measures include:
- communicating threat detection to key stakeholders,
- preparing a systems checklist that can help you identify breach areas,
- and hiring the expertise that is required for quick recovery.
A Word of Caution
Failing to effectively safeguard your business against DDoS attacks is akin to jeopardizing the financial security of your customers. Once compromised, both recovery as well as earning back the repute lost by your business can prove incredibly tedious.
Do not put your system security to unnecessary tests by refusing to invest in a sound protection plan. Start by conducting a thorough security assessment and follow it with the introduction of reliable preventive solutions for uninhibited future operations.
I hope you find this ultimate guide on DDoS Attacks helpful, and that now you are feeling more confident and prepared to give those damned hackers a real tough time.