Understanding DDoS Attacks and Impacts

A DDoS attack – or a distributed denial of service attack – is a type of cyberattack that hampers people from accessing a business’s website. This incredibly common attack involves hackers forcing multiple systems (generally infected with Malware) to send network communication requests to the targeted web server (which limits how many requests they can serve at one time). The receiving server overloads due to the massive increase in traffic and either crashes or slows the server enough, so regular web visitors cannot establish a connection between their system and the hacked server. 

With DDoS attacks, the targeted business’s customers cannot access the website, preventing them from transacting with the brand. In turn, an attacked company loses valuable opportunities, money, and productivity. The average cost of a DDoS attack for a small business is $120,000, and an average of more than $2M for an enterprise organization. Not to mention, a DDoS attack can severely damage a brand’s reputation. Unfortunately, with the flood of connected internet of things (IoT) devices, DDoS attacks are becoming an even more threatening trend.

TYPES OF DDoS ATTACKS

DDoS attacks come in a variety of different flavors, such as:

  • VOLUME BASED ATTACKS. The most common type of attack and the goal is to flood a website with traffic so that an overwhelming amount congests its available bandwidth. As a result, legitimate visitors cannot pass through, and the threat actor takes down the website. These types of attacks are measured in bits per second (bps).
  • PROTOCOL ATTACKS. Unlike volume based attacks, this type of attack focuses on exploiting server resources instead of bandwidth. Protocol attacks also target intermediaries between the server and website, such as firewalls and load balancers. Threat actors create phony protocol requests, which overwhelms the website and consumes available server resources. These types of attacks are measured in packets per second (pps).
  • APPLICATION LAYER ATTACKS. The most severe and sophisticated attack and the goal is to crash the webserver. Speaking to the name, these types of attacks target vulnerabilities within applications, such as Apache, Windows, and OpenBSD. These attacks take down a server by serving a large number of requests that appear normal at first as they mimic a normal users’ traffic behavior, which disrupts various functions and features of a website (i.e., online transactions). However, because these attacks only target specific application packets, they often go unnoticed. The magnitude is measured in requests per second (rps).

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REAL-WORLD EXAMPLE

The most recent and largest-to-date – a volume of 2.3 Tbps – DDoS attack was against Amazon. The e-commerce company noted that Amazon Web Shield (AWS) service successfully mitigated the attack in February 2020. While the targeted AWS customer is not disclosed, the volumetric attack was carried out by hijacked Connection-less Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (CLDAP) web servers. It caused several days of elevated threat for the AWS Shield team. CLDAP servers are used to allow a connection, search, and modification of Internet-shared directories.

HOW TO PROTECT AGAINST A DDoS ATTACK

It is possible to safeguard your systems against DDoS attacks if proper planning and security measures are in place. Remember that DDoS attacks do not discriminate – both small and large enterprises are targets for such attacks. There are a few key measures we recommend having in place to protect your business from a DDoS attack:

HAVE A PLAN.

Like any project, having a plan in place is essential. Developing an incident response plan is the critical first step toward a holistic defense strategy. When a DDoS attack hits, there’s no time to think about the steps needed to take. An established plan will enable prompt reactions and avoid significant impacts and minimize damage and recovery.

ESSENTIAL PLAN ELEMENTS REMAIN THE SAME FOR EVERY COMPANY:

  • Develop a systems checklist indicating security assets that should be in place (i.e., anti-virus and malware protection software, advanced threat detection, assessment, and filtering tools).
  • Form a response team of individuals within the company and define roles as needed.
  • Define communication procedures so the response team knows what key stakeholders they need to contact.

SECURE YOUR NETWORK INFRASTRUCTURE.

Mitigating network threats can only be achieved with multi-layer protection strategies in place. This protection strategy includes advanced intrusion prevention and threat management systems, which combines firewalls, VPN, anti-spam, content filtering, load balancing, and additional layers. Together, these systems enable constant network protection, including the identification of traffic inconsistencies.

In addition to having protection strategies in place, it’s vital to regularly patch your infrastructure and install new software versions. Outdated systems generally have the most loopholes. By ensuring your network is up-to-date, you can close many doors to threat actors.

CONSIDER IMPLEMENTING DDoS-AS-A-SERVICE.

DDoS-as-a-Service provides companies with flexibility for networks that include in-house and third-party resources, along with cloud server hosting. Furthermore, DDoS-as-a-Service ensures that security infrastructures meet security standards and compliance requirements. DDoS-as-a-Service’s ultimate benefit is it’s customizable based on your business’s needs and requirements. Customization makes this high-level security offering accessible (and affordable) to every size business.

DDoS attacks’ inevitable fate can wreak havoc on an organization’s network in a matter of minutes. To safeguard your business, it’s imperative to have DDoS protection and mitigation measures in place. Let us help protect your business against DDoS attacks. Contact us today to talk to a Trusted Security Advisor: info@missionessetialcts.com.

Follow along in this series, where we’ll dive deeper into phishing attacks, real-world examples, and how to protect your organization’s data.


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