Whether it’s a simple information page or a complex online store, you have taken great care to make your website look and function in the best possible way, right?
But what about security?
Today, there are many factors that can jeopardize your business website, whether it is unfair competition, cybercrime, angry former employees, etc. One of the most dangerous and common attacks today, are the distributed denial of service attacks or as they’re more commonly known, DDoS attacks.
Did you know that such an attack can make you lose 100s of 1000s of dollars in a short time, according to these statistics?
But wait, there are many things you can do to successfully implement an effective DDoS attack prevention strategy to secure your website. Let’s see.
What is a DDoS attack?
Sudden influx of artificial traffic launched with the intention of paralyzing the servers of a website and making it unusable for a certain time.
When your web server receives more requests than it can handle, its operation becomes so slow that it reaches the point where the service crashes and no real user can access it.
This large volume of requests is directed from tens, hundreds, or even thousands of individual devices — typically computers and phones — that have been hijacked by hackers. Working together, these devices form a botnet or zombie network. However, botnets can also be run from tablets, security cameras, and even Internet-connected home devices (IoT).
Although DDoS attacks typically last only a few hours, in more severe cases, they can last for days. Let’s see what you can do to defend yourself against such an attack.
7 tips to apply an effective DDoS attack prevention strategy
Please note: prevention is the number one defense against a DDoS-type attack.
DDoS attacks can cause serious consequences in the attacked systems, so implementing preventive measures is essential, since if you don’t do so, you’ll end up suffering the consequences when your web service stops working. To minimize the consequences of these attacks, follow these recommendations:
1. Prepare a contingency plan
Rule number one. Meet with your IT team and come up with an action plan, so everyone knows what to do at all times. Discuss points like:
Who will be responsible for IP blocking?
Who will contact the security providers?
Who will handle the complaints of hundreds of dissatisfied customers?
Try to automate as many of these interactions as possible to minimize reaction time if an attack occurs. If you don’t have a team of IT professionals who can handle this, then choose a hosting provider that offers DDoS protection measures. This will take care of all the technical aspects to protect your website and get it up and running as soon as possible.
2. Hire an uptime monitoring service
This is an essential method of early detection of a potential DDoS attack. An uptime monitoring service can notify you by various means and in a matter of minutes, if your website slows down significantly. Some web hosting providers offer this service with some of their premium plans. If not, you can always look for an alternative professional solution on the Internet.
Remember to also check if your hosting provider offers additional security measures.
3. Use a firewall
A web application firewall (WAF) sits between your website and user requests, filtering network traffic to block bad bots. This, in addition to protecting against hacker attacks, also helps in containing DDoS attacks by limiting requests. If the DDoS attack doesn’t use sophisticated technology, it may not even reach your website.
Currently, there are many of these cloud-based services that incorporate monitoring mechanisms managed by qualified personnel, and that also have a large knowledge base, so evading their security won’t be easy for an attacker.
4. Increase bandwidth
Although this is a very basic protection measure, it’s still very effective. It doesn’t matter if your web service is within your organization or is outsourced, try to have as much bandwidth as possible. In this way, you can better manage traffic spikes that DDoS attacks cause.
5. Don’t forget redundancy and load balancing
Redundancy consists of having copies of your website on more than one server, while load balancing allows execution to be assigned to one server or another depending on the workload it is supporting.
This measure helps to reduce the risk of suffering a DDoS attack, since having more than one server reduces the possibility of it being stopped due to an overload of requests. Also, in the event that one server goes down, the workload would be taken over by another server.
6. Keep your systems up to date
Many DDoS attacks originate from outdated systems due to their increased vulnerability. For that reason, it’s essential to keep all your software up-to-date to prevent these vulnerabilities. Start by updating your operating system and move on to the security software.
It’s also important to reduce the attack surface as much as possible; for this, you should uninstall all those services that are not strictly necessary for the operation of your website. The smaller the attack surface, the less likely to suffer any.
7. Implement internal protection measures
If your website is on the company’s internal network, a recommended practice is to incorporate additional perimeter protection measures, such as:
- Locate the server in a demilitarized zone (DMZ), thus preventing an intruder from accessing the internal network if it violates the web server
- Implement an intrusion detection and prevention system (IDS/IPS) to monitor unauthorized access attempts
- Implement a combination of security products (antivirus, firewall, etc.), to face other threats that may leave your website more vulnerable
Even though it’s impossible to prevent a malicious actor from launching a DDoS attack against your website, that doesn’t mean that you should resign to such a situation. As you’ve seen, there are many steps you can take to prevent most minor attacks and minimize the impact on your business. Even in the case that someone is really hell-bent on damaging your business, they won’t be able to sustain such an attack for a long time.
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