Cyber-attacks are very common these days. It is not unusual if any company fall prey to the cyber-attack. One attack that wreaks havoc among companies is the DDoS attack. DDoS stands for distributed denial of service (wiki). It is a known tool among hackers and competitors to create problems for a particular company. The DDoS attacks have created issues for many companies around the world. Many who failed to secure their servers are regretting over their loss. It is better to be prepared for not only distributed denial of service but also for other attacks.
According to some statistics, a bank can lose $100000 per hour. At least 20% of these attacks last for days or even months. 87% of the companies are on the victim side for more than once. These attacks can create serious problems for any business. A day or months without any internet interaction can create a loss. The specified targets for such attacks are competitor companies. Before taking any precaution, let’s know what a distributed denial of service is?
How does a network work?
Before getting into understanding a DDoS attack, let’s first know how a website works. This idea is the basic principle of every website.
Web hosting is sophisticated networking, which also involves the use of top-class hardware. In web hostings, the files are stored in a server with the capacity to transfer data in a short time.
When someone connects to your server, they temporarily download files needed to show the page. This happens by sending packets and small bundles of data that contains the information. These packets of data can get vulnerable during the transfer. An interception in this transfer can give away many details to the hacker.
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What is DDoS?
As the name suggests, it is an attempt to disrupt a particular server, service, or network. It is done by flooding the server, service, or network with internet traffic. The purpose is to stop the regular traffic from reaching its destination. Like in a traffic jam, it is difficult to reach your destination; in the same way, the internet traffic is blocked from reaching their destination. It is usually done by skillful hackers. These hackers are hired to cause a problem for the target companies.
How do DDoS attacks take place?
The attacker infects other computers and devices with malware. This malware is specially designed to infect your device and turn it into bots. These bots are later used by the hacker to flood the traffic.
Flooding any traffic needs more devices in addition to your own. So numerous bots are used to execute this action flawlessly. Once the device is converted, the attacker uses them to send requests to the target. On the internet, before opening any site, the browser sends a request to that site. This method is used by the attacker to overload the traffic, and this causes the clog.
Different types of DDoS attacks:
All networks have 7 different layers. These layers form the whole structure of the network connection.
- Physical layer: Transmits a raw bit stream over the physical medium.
- Datalink Layer: Defined the format of data on the network.
- Network layer: Decides which physical path the data will take.
- Transport layer: Transmits using transmission protocols including TCP and UDP.
- Session layer: Maintains connections and is responsible for controlling ports and sessions.
- Presentation layer: ensures that data is in a usable format and is where data encryption occurs.
- Application: Human-computer interaction layer, where applications can access the network service.
Now we understand what is a DDoS, how they work, and their types. We can now move into the protection part.
How to protect yourself from DDoS attacks?
Precaution is the best option to take instead of regret over the loss of data or network failure. A typical DDoS attack can make a huge loss to your company. But there are ways to avoid these attacks. The basic principle followed to avoid these attacks, is by differentiating between attack traffic and normal traffic. Below are a few points which will help to avoid these attacks.
1. Have more bandwidth
The Bandwidth term is used to define the capacity of a wire or wireless network to transfer data from one point to another. More bandwidth means the network can handle more internet traffic. Distributed denial of service attacks depends on flooding the network with internet traffic. Own more than a typical bandwidth, so that it can handle the sudden spike of traffic.
It is not a sure shot way, but to some extent, it can protect you from DDoS attacks.
2. Use a firewall
A firewall is the first line of security for any device. It acts like a filter which blocks the exchange of information through the internet. There are two types of firewalls- hardware and software.
Hardware firewall separates the computer from the internet. It pretty much decides which exchange of data should take place and which can be dangerous.
Software firewall monitor things such as download rates, transfer times, and incoming IP addresses.
Both are used for better protection against attacks.
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3. Use DDoS protection
Firewalls help with DDoS attacks by observing IP spoofing. But the scenario changes with a botnet. These botnets are devices which are turned into bots and is controlled by the attacker. It is difficult to distinguish between attack traffic and normal traffic. Also, the bots have a legitimate IP address.
DDoS protection works on the principle of dispersion. When a spike in the traffic occurs, the protector breaks it and let it travel through a different network of servers. It reduces the chances of being clogged. It also avoids the legitimate IP address from getting blocked.
4. Monitor your security
Check your security continuously to avoid any potential attacks. Monitoring may include looking in spam rolling through, unwarranted spikes in traffic, and suspicious behavior. The software will not be able to protect the website every time.
Human experience and skills to make an accurate decision can save data and money. Overseeing security can give the instinct to point out potential attacks.
5. Secure your network infrastructure
DDoS can be safely dodged by applying different layers of protection. It includes advanced intrusion prevention and threat management systems. It combines firewalls, anti-spam, VPN, load balancing, content filtering, and other layers of DDoS security techniques. Combination of these can precisely predict the chances of an attack and can also help to dodge such attacks.
It is a better decision to upgrade your DDoS mitigation options. It is wise to keep your system up to date. An old system may not protect you from a DDoS due to lack of information.
6. Protect your DNS server
A DNS server maintains and processes Internet domain names and their records. The attackers can also bring down your network by affecting the DNS. It is a better option to shift to a cloud server. It provides more bandwidth and also has many data centers around the world.
There are also a lot of ways to avoid an attack on the DNS server.
Keeping the resolver protected and private
While operating on your owned resolver, it is wise to limit the users on your network. It helps in avoiding cache poisoning. Also, keep in mind to avoid making it available for external users.
Configure it to be secure against cache poisoning
Protection built for DNS software protects it from cache poisoning. It includes adding variability to outgoing requests. Possible ways of doing this include:
- Randomizing the query ID.
- Using a random source port (rather than UDP port 53).
- Randomizing the case of the letters of the domain names that are sent out to be resolved.
Manage your DNS servers safely
While having your own DNS server, it is important to decide whether you want to host it yourself or have a different service provider or domain registrar host it for you. If you have the skills, then it is wise to handle it yourself. But if you do not have the knowledge or expertise, then hire someone who does.
7. Hire trained security team
Another way to protect a website from the DDoS attacks is by employing professionals. Hiring a professional is an obvious choice to avoid any attack. DDoS professionals have in-depth knowledge about the 7 layers of the network. They also monitor your security and protect you from any possible attack.
They will be vigilant 24×7 to protect your website. Their services include:
- New security notification to protect your systems from familiar.
- Periodic penetration testing.
- Business logic checks on all applications to find vulnerabilities, automated application risks, and zero-day threats.
- Custom WAF rules to block attacks (via virtual patching).
- Tracking the hostile behavior of an attacker initially v simply blocking the attack.
- 24/7 monitoring to gather information such as User ID if authenticated, IP address, GEO location, machine fingerprint, and navigation/user behavior. It can help gain intel about the attacker’s approaches.
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These are some few ways to keep your network or website safe from the DDoS attacks. All these precautions are needed to avoid these attacks. It’s never too late to secure your website. But many fail to achieve this state of security and become the victim of this attack. Instead of losing data, start to make your server a more secure one.
This article is written by Neeraj R. Neeraj works as a Growth Assistant at AirTract.Com, a social platform wherein people ask questions, write articles, share knowledge and experience. Graduated as a Computer Science Engineer, he is now a digital marketing enthusiast who reads and finds the latest techniques to grow an organization. If he is not working, either he would be on a football pitch or listening to music.