Storagepipe Is Now Thrive

GridWay Is Now Thrive

Data Protection

Everything You Need to Know about DDOS Attacks and Prevention

Everything You Need to Know about DDOS Attacks and Prevention

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks can be catastrophic for any business, organization, or institution. DDoS cyber attacks can force a business into downtime for up to 12 hours, leading to a potentially substantial loss in revenue. In a recent 2022 security survey from Cox BLUE, it was reported that the average cost of falling victim to a DDoS attack is between $20,000 – $40,000 per hour.

No business can afford to be unprepared for such a debilitating attack. Having DDoS prevention methods in place as part of your cybersecurity services can save your business valuable time and money. So how can you stop DDoS attacks? Learn more about them below as well as 5 of the best ways to protect your business from their damage.

What is a DDoS Attack?

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack operates like its name implies; it’s a form of cyber attack that disrupts connectivity or network services to deny service to users. Attacks generally feature tools, such as a bot, that overwhelm the network with repeated signals until it can no longer process genuine requests from users.

Hackers frequently target critical services such as web services and platforms that are often used by large businesses, banks, governments, and educational institutions. It is imperative that high-risk industries develop DDos prevention methods and implement the right tools to mitigate attacks. There are multiple forms of DDoS attacks. Some common examples include:

  • Volumetric Attacks: The prevalent type of DDoS attacks involves the use of botnets, which inundate network ports, rendering them incapable of handling genuine traffic and user requests. These bots generate fake traffic directed at all accessible ports, effectively blocking them and hindering the normal flow of legitimate traffic. Consequently, websites crash, displaying errors to potential customers.
  • Amplification-layer Attacks: Instead of attacking the entire victim’s network, perpetrators focus on specific user-facing applications. They create substantial traffic using HTTP and HTTPS protocols, mimicking the typical patterns of traffic these applications normally experience.
  • Protocol Attacks: (protocol fragmentation attacks) Aim to disrupt data transfer and connection verification protocols. Attackers send malformed and sluggish pings, causing the network to expend significant resources attempting to validate these requests. Consequently, the network becomes overwhelmed, rendering it incapable of responding to genuine requests.

While they differ in how they inflict damage, all three approaches can attack a victim on multiple fronts to completely overwhelm their infrastructure and applications.

The History of DDoS Attacks

Cyber-attacks are not a recent development. The first DoS attack took place in 1974, orchestrated by a curious 13-year-old boy in Illinois. Exploiting a vulnerability in the then-new “ext” command, he managed to simultaneously shut down 31 University of Illinois computer terminals. In the 1990s, Internet Relay Chat fell victim to basic bandwidth DoS attacks and chat floods. However, the first significant DDoS attack occurred in 1999, when a hacker utilized the “Trinoo” tool to incapacitate the University of Minnesota’s computer network for 2 days. Subsequent attacks laid the foundation for the larger and more widespread cyber-attacks prevalent today.

One of the largest examples of a DDoS attack was on June 1, 2022, on a Google customer. The target was hit with a series of HTTPS DDoS attacks, peaking at 46 million requests per second. Which, to put into perspective, compares to “receiving all the daily requests to Wikipedia (one of the top 10 trafficked websites in the world) in just 10 seconds.” The customer, Cloudflare, announced it had stopped the largest HTTPS distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack ever recorded at 26 million requests per second, surpassing a previous-record attack of 17.2 million requests, which at the time was almost three times larger than any previous volumetric DDoS attack ever reported in the public domain. The hackers, who utilized the Mēris botnet, used over 5,000 source IPs from 132 countries to launch the attack, with the top 4 countries – Brazil, India, Russia and Indonesia – contributing about 31% of the total attack traffic.

Named after the Latvian word for “plague,” the Mēris botnet operators typically send threatening emails to large companies asking for ransom payments in exchange for an end to their DDoS attack. If the DDoS attack victims don’t pay the ransom, the hackers use their botnet in attacks that start small and gradually grow as a way to pressure victims into paying. For several months, Mēris was the largest DDoS botnet on the internet, breaking the record for the largest volumetric DDoS attack twice in 2021, once in June, and then again in September.

What Happens During a DDoS Attack?

Cybercriminals perform their DDoS attacks by sending out malicious code to hundreds or even thousands of computers, instructing each one to send requests to a single organization. This is usually accomplished through tools, such as a botnet. The botnet can be a network of private computers infected with malicious software that is controlled as a group, without the knowledge of each individual owner.

Why Have DDoS Attacks Increased?

If you are not concerned about DDoS attacks yet, you should be. The last year has seen a significant rise in the amount of DDoS attacks, and there is no evidence that they’ll decrease anytime soon. Implementing DDoS prevention methods and best practices is crucial to mitigate these increasing attacks.

The annual Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Insights Report from Zayo Group Holdings, Inc. found that DDoS attacks in the first half of 2023 were up 200% from 2022. Activity increased nearly four-fold from Q1 to Q2 in 2023, which is attributed to increased automation in the digital world.

As more organizations adopt internet-connected devices, cybercriminals see the opportunities for DDoS attacks, which may explain the rise. The more companies integrate unsecured Internet of Things devices without the right cybersecurity precautions or DDos prevention tools, the more they place themselves at risk and contribute to the rise in DDoS attacks.

5 Tips for DDoS Attack Prevention

Prevention is the best medicine, and this couldn’t be more true for DDoS attacks. Prepare your organization with the following tips to avert a devastating DDoS attack.

1. Organize a DDoS Attack Response Plan

Don’t be caught blindsided by DDoS attacks; have a response plan ready in case of a security breach so your organization can respond as promptly as possible. Your plan should document how to maintain business operations if a DDoS attack is successful, any technical competencies and expertise that will be necessary, and a systems checklist to ensure that your assets have advanced threat detection.

Additionally, establish an incident response team in case the DDoS is successful and define responsibilities, such as notifying key stakeholders and ensuring communication throughout the organization.

2. Secure Your Infrastructure with DDoS Attack Prevention Solutions. 

Equip your network, applications, and infrastructure with multi-level DDoS protection strategies. This may include DDoS prevention management systems that combine firewalls, VPN, anti-spam, content filtering, and other security layers to monitor activities and identify traffic inconsistencies that may be symptoms of DDoS attacks.

If you’re looking for DDoS protection by leveraging cloud-based solutions, many providers allow for advanced protection resources for additional charges. Other options allow for businesses to go “full cloud,” entrusting sensitive data with a reputable cloud provider that offers heightened security protocols, both virtual and physical.

3. Perform a Network Vulnerability Assessment.

Identify weaknesses in your networks before a malicious user does. A vulnerability assessment involves identifying security exposures so you can patch up your infrastructure to be better prepared for a DDoS attack, or for any cybersecurity risks in general.

Assessments will secure your network by trying to find security vulnerabilities. This is done by taking inventory of all devices on the network, as well as their purpose, system information, and any vulnerabilities associated with them, and including what devices need to be prepared for upgrades or future assessments. Doing so will help define your organization’s level of risk so you can optimize any security investments, and employ DDoS prevention methods in your organization.

4. Identify Warning Signs of a DDoS Attack.

If you can identify the symptoms of a DDoS attack as early as possible, you can take action and hopefully mitigate damage. Spotty connectivity, slow performance, and intermittent web crashes are all signs that your business may be coming under attack from a DDoS criminal. Educate your team on signs of DDoS attacks so everyone can be alert for warning signs.

Not all DDoS attacks are extensive and high-volume; low-volume attacks that launch for short durations are just as common. These attacks can be particularly nefarious because they are more likely to go under the radar as just a random incident rather than a potential security breach. Low-volume DDoS attacks are likely distractions for damaging malware; while your IT security staff is distracted by a low-volume attack, malicious software like ransomware can infiltrate your network.

5. Adopt Cloud-Based Service Providers. 

There are several benefits to outsourcing DDoS attack prevention to the cloud.

Cloud providers who offer high levels of cybersecurity, including firewalls and threat monitoring software, can help protect your assets and network from DDoS criminals. The cloud also has greater bandwidth than most private networks, so it is likely to fail if under the pressure of increased DDoS attacks.

Additionally, reputable cloud providers offer network redundancy, duplicating copies of your data, systems, and equipment so that if your service becomes corrupted or unavailable due to a DDoS attack, you can switch to secure access on backed-up versions without missing a beat.

Are you interested in the security of a predictable cloud provider and protection from DDoS attacks? Don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Thrive to learn more about our cloud services. And if you intend to go it alone? Remember that the next time you see an influx of traffic signaling a banner day for business, you may be facing a DDoS attack.