In any online endeavor, one of the most concerning prospects is being the victim of a DDoS attack. This form of attack can debilitate your online presence for days or even weeks at a time if not managed correctly. In this article, we’ll look at how you can identify and deal with a DDoS attack.
What Is a DDoS Attack?
Image via Flickr via Katy Levinson
A DDoS, or “Distributed Denial of Service,” attack is when a hacker or group of hackers intentionally overload the bandwidth of a website to shut down service to legitimate users. This is typically done through a “botnet,” a system of computers hijacked via malicious software. Each of the computers on the botnet attempt to constantly send and receive the maximum amount of data possible, eclipsing the server’s capacity.
Various major sites — including the BBC, the Church of Scientology, Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft, and the Department of Defense — have been taken down by major DDoS attacks. So how can you manage if this happens to you? Here are the vital steps.
1. Create a Response Plan for Emergencies
Being prepared is key. After reviewing the items on this list and doing your own research to learn more about today’s online security threats, put together a comprehensive emergency response plan that covers all the major scenarios. Speed of response is vital for a DDoS, so simply knowing what to do will reduce the damage of the attack dramatically.
2. Know Who to Call
It’s useful to have a dedicated server expert who works as the authority should anything go wrong. This person would also be best equipped to identify abnormalities in your traffic. If you don’t run your own server, the key here is knowing who to call in case of emergency, how to get the fastest response, and how reliable your host company’s response is.
3. Know How to Identify Threats Early
Every DDoS starts out as a sudden increase in traffic, and the key is identifying malicious as opposed to legitimate traffic. If you run your own server, you can evaluate how your current traffic matches up to your traffic profile by using either “flow analytics” (a slower but simpler solution) or “in-path mitigation” (a quicker, more comprehensive, but more costly approach).
4. Set Aside Excess Bandwidth
Since a DDoS relies on overloading your bandwidth, the best preventive measure you can take is ensuring that you have bandwidth to spare. In addition to reducing the damage of the attack, this will also give you more space in which to recognize and deal with the attack before it affects your legitimate visitors.
5. Use Defensive Filters and Settings
Since DDoS attacks use thousands of partial connections to your site and massive download/upload attempts, you can use server filters that time out partial connections more rapidly and reject data packets that go beyond credible limits for your site’s typical data transfer. You will still need to shut down the attack after it starts, but these filters can delay the damage and give you the time for a comprehensive response.
The digital era has brought many opportunities as well as countless new dangers. The dangers, however, can be understood and overcome. By following the steps above, you can protect your online properties against attacks.