Cybersecurity | June 22, 2022

Are You Protected Against a DDoS Attack?

DDoS protections are a must-do for organizations of all shapes and sizes. Will your current cybersecurity protocol keep your business safe in the event of an attack?  

Without the right policies in place, you can’t be too sure.  

Like most other cyber threats, the best way to safeguard your business against DDoS is to gain a baseline understanding of what this type of attack is, how you can expect the events of the attack to unfold, the security measures your business can put in place to prevent it, and what steps your security team should follow in order to mitigate the effects should you ultimately fall victim.  

And if that sounds like a lot of information – it is! Luckily, team EMPIST is here to guide you through it all.  

So, without further ado, here’s everything business owners need to know about DDoS:  

DDoS, Defined 

Alright, you can admit it – you have no idea what a DDoS attack actually is, do you? Don’t worry – you’re not alone.  

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the specifics, we’re willing to bet that you’ve already seen, heard of, or even experienced some kind of DDoS attack yourself in the not-too-distant past. Short for distributed denial-of-service, a DDoS attack is an aggressive type of malware-based cyber threat that occurs when malicious actors attempt to disrupt service to a particular server, network, or other online infrastructure by overwhelming that infrastructure with traffic.  

Basically, DDoS attacks make it impossible for users to send, receive, publish, or access online information to or from their given target by flooding that target with a huge amount of fake or otherwise unnecessary requests, effectively halting all services. Lasting anywhere from hours to days, these attacks aim to take your systems offline, run amok of consumer trust, and occasionally extort organizations for money in return for putting their systems back in order.  

Sound familiar? It should. 

You might remember Google Cloud being famously targeted by a huge DDoS attack in 2017, which was revealed in 2020. In 2016, a host of popular websites like Netflix, Twitter, and Amazon were also disrupted by an intense DDoS hit that left users reeling. Amazon reported the largest DDoS attack in history in 2020. Russian-backed DDoS attacks even hit the Ukrainian defense ministry amid the ongoing invasion in 2022, according to the Verge.  

In fact, as more and more of our daily activities take place online, DDoS attacks like these become ever more prevalent – and enterprise-level companies and governments aren’t the only ones at risk, either. Recent reports from Kaspersky suggest that, amid growing global cybersecurity threats, they detected 91,052 DDoS attacks in the first quarter of 2022 alone. That’s nearly a 4.5-fold increase from the same period in 2021. According to research from 2018, the average DDoS attack will cost enterprise-scale businesses $2 million across the globe and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) $120,000. 

The point is: it’s time to start taking DDoS attacks seriously.  

How Does DDoS Work?  

Let’s get technical. DDoS attacks work by using bots to attack what’s known as edge network devices of a particular service or system. Rather than target the server itself, the bots overwhelm routers, routing switches, or anything that operates as a network entry point with traffic in order to effectively clog the bandwidth to the point of inoperability.  

The bots are sourced from what is known as a botnet – a network of malware-controlled computers under the purview of one bot herder (AKA, your bad actor).  

The most basic form of DDoS attack – a volume-based attack – uses this structure to simply inundate the target and halt service. Other common types of DDoS include protocol attacks, which target the processing power of network infrastructures like servers and firewalls, and application attacks that hit specific weak functions in unique applications in order to disrupt the user. 

Of course, there are other variations to consider, and not every attack will look exactly the same, but this is the general structure business owners can expect to see when dealing with DDoS.  

Preventing DDoS 

Protecting against – and hopefully preventing – a successful DDoS attack goes beyond one solution or software alone. Like other popular forms of cyberattack, DDoS attacks and their effects are best mitigated by a layered cybersecurity program that includes a mix of technology, expert advice, human intervention, and vigilance.  

From the EMPIST cybersecurity experts, here are a few tools you should have at the ready in order to defend your business from DDoS: 

  • Understand Your Network – You won’t be able to tell when something is wrong with your network unless you understand it fully. Performing regular network vulnerability scans, keeping tabs on your endpoints, and having a watchful eye on the type and amount of traffic your site normally achieves will be crucial to ward off DDoS campaigns.  
  • Monitor, Monitor, Monitor – Speaking of a watchful eye, consistently and closely monitoring systems, server loads, and site performance will help your team catch any signs of DDoS attacks before they do significant damage. Common red flags include a significant increase in traffic, large amounts of traffic from one IP address, unexplained crashes, slow connection, excessive spam, and 503 error codes, to name a few.  
  • Improve Network Security – As with other cyberattacks, beefing up your network security with solutions like antivirus, EDR, MDR, MFA, firewalls, spam & virus filtering, and more can ensure that your team has a first line of defense against potential bad actors.  
  • Backup Those Servers – Routinely backing up your business’s servers – and also keeping a redundancy of servers and cloud storage – may help your business recover should an attack occur. 
  • Make a Contingency Plan – If you don’t already have a DDoS recovery plan in place, you need to make one, and fast. Having a contingency plan in the face of the reputational and financial losses of a DDoS attack is the only way you will be able to mitigate losses going forward.  

After You’ve Been Attacked 

Surviving a DDoS attack is anything but easy, but there are a few steps we recommend you take in order to lessen the blow to your business and recover in stride: 

  • Don’t panic.  
  • Inform your hosting provider immediately.  
  • Analyze the attack and identify any known metrics.  
  • Identify weak spots.  
  • Deploy necessary mitigation measures.  
  • Maintain monitoring.  
  • Restore connections and protections.  

Deny DDoS with EMPIST 

A DDoS attack might overwhelm your bandwidth, but it doesn’t have to overwhelm your team. As your partner in tech, EMPIST makes it our mission to empower your business to succeed – even in the face of devastating cybercrime.  

From advanced cybersecurity protocols like MDR to everyday operations, EMPIST works with the best-of-the-best in business technology to ensure that your organization can be, well, the best. For more information about our services, visit us online here.  

To get in touch with a member of our team right now, contact EMPIST here.