Distributed Denial of Service Attacks and How to Prevent Them

What is a Distributed Denial of Service Attack?

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal functioning of a targeted website, server, or network by overwhelming it with a flood of internet traffic from multiple sources.

An example of a distributed denial of service attack

One well-known example of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack happened in October 2016, when a botnet comprised of Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as cameras and routers was used to execute an attack on Dyn, a domain name service provider. The attack resulted in widespread internet outages, affecting popular websites such as Twitter, Netflix, and Reddit, among others.

The Mirai botnet overwhelmed Dyn’s servers with massive amounts of traffic, overwhelming them and causing the domain name resolution service to fail. As a result, users could not access the websites affiliated with Dyn’s service, effectively shutting them down for several hours.

The Mirai botnet carried out the attack by exploiting weak passwords and other security flaws in IoT devices, allowing the attacker to gain control of them and use them to conduct the DDoS attack. This attack highlighted the potential threat posed by unsecure IoT devices, as well as the necessity for enhanced security measures to protect against DDoS attacks.

The Challenge With Distributed Denial of Service Attack Prevention:

Cyber criminals can cripple your business without every breaching your security. By using systems and botnets, they blast garbage Internet traffic at your public IP address(es).  The Denial of Service Attack is distributed (hence the name) across many sources, making it more difficult to block.

DDOS attacks stop your Internet traffic. They block communications and access to applications and services. In some cases, DDOS attackers demand ransom payments to halt the attack.

DDoS attacks are often carried out with the goal of causing financial or reputational damage to a business or organization, or to extort money from them. They can also be used as a distraction to divert attention from other cyberattacks or to disrupt critical infrastructure.

To protect against DDoS attacks, organizations can use various techniques such as load balancers, firewalls, and intrusion prevention systems. Additionally, cloud-based DDoS protection services are available from many providers to help mitigate the effects of such attacks.

5 Ways to Stop a Distributed Denial of Service Attack:

If you’re looking for the best defense against a distributed denial of service attack, the top five techniques below can help organizations protect themselves.

  1. Move your computing to cloud services. Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and other public cloud providers build their networks to prevent DOS attacks.  They have multiple entry points and routes to their services and manage multiple layers of DDOS protections.
  2. Upgrade to “Next Gen” routers with improved DDOS protections. These routers can identify attacks and help reroute your Internet traffic around the attack.
  3. Add an alternate Internet connection.  Having a second connection can allow your network traffic to circumvent the attack or can provide a failover connection when needed.
  4. Maintain strong endpoint protection to prevent botnet malware from being installed on internal systems.
  5. Subscribe to hosted DDOS services that can route traffic around, and prevent, DDOS attacks.

Overall, it is important for organizations to implement a multi-layered approach to DDoS protection, using a combination of strategic services and techniques to ensure maximum protection against DDoS attacks.

Contact us to discuss your cyber threat protections. The Cloud Advisory session is complimentary and without obligation.

This post is part of our Cyber Threat Series.