Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are among the most common security concerns today’s businesses and individuals face. Although they’ve been a huge threat for decades, these attacks have become more prevalent in the last few years. Their intensity is also on the rise, with even the best-protected companies suffering huge losses as a result.
While DDoS attacks can vary considerably from one situation to the next, these incidents are built on the concept of capacity limits. Typically, they involve sending numerous requests to prevent websites from functioning optimally. In some cases, this may be accompanied by a ransom demand, with attackers only halting their efforts once they’ve been paid exorbitant amounts. These attacks can prove harmful even without ransoms, as they prompt considerable downtime and may cause irreversible reputational damage.
In today’s threat-filled digital environment, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of facing a DDoS attack. Preventative efforts may seem fruitless, given how many major corporations have fallen victim to attacks. In reality, however, basic measures can keep most hackers at bay or, at minimum, optimize your response to limit the damage. To address this growing threat, be sure to implement the following DDoS prevention strategies:
Choose a Server with Built-In DDoS Mitigation
Server selection can play a huge role in determining your vulnerability to DDoS attacks. Many dedicated servers come with built-in mitigation services to prevent a wide range of incidents. Ideally, these offerings will be included with your dedicated server, free of charge. In-house protection can go above and beyond to keep your dedicated server safe without increasing latency.
Under a server-based mitigation strategy, incoming traffic is thoroughly scanned. If malicious traffic is detected, it can be blocked before reaching your dedicated server. Meanwhile, clean traffic is sent to your server to prevent disruptions for authorized website visitors. Built-in mitigation does not eliminate the need for other DDoS prevention efforts. Still, it should at least provide peace of mind as you work on cultivating a comprehensive security and response plan.
Understand the Warning Signs
Many organizations struggle to pinpoint DDoS attacks early on because, in some situations, they look a lot like ordinary spikes in traffic. As such, it’s crucial to get a feel for typical traffic variations that may occur during busy periods or in response to normal increases in demand. This can be contrasted against typical DDoS warning signs, which include:
- Slower than usual access to local or remote files.
- Random and sustained spikes in traffic. In most cases, ordinary traffic increases can be identified swiftly and will also resolve in quick order.
- Continued queries long after the elapse of a Time To Live (TTL).
- Sudden and excessive increases in spam emails.
Implement Advanced Firewalls
As the first line of defense against several types of attacks, firewalls allow you to be more selective about which types of traffic gain access to your server. These are generally easy to implement and can provide comprehensive protection for sensitive data.
Consider going beyond traditional firewalls with web application firewalls (WAF) or next-generation firewalls (NGFW). Web application firewalls place an essential shield between the internet and vulnerable applications. Unlike standard firewalls, however, a WAF specifically focuses on HTTP traffic. These can be scaled to provide valuable protection against the most damaging DDoS attacks.
If you’re interested in taking on an even more proactive approach, use NGFW to harness the power of intrusion detection and deep-packet inspection. In addition to providing superior protection and insight, NGFWs maintain consistent throughput, allowing for an elite combination of security and performance.
Overhaul Your Password Strategy
Password protection is critical not only for limiting DDoS attacks but also for preventing malware and a host of common security issues. Most people are well aware of the need for strong passwords, yet many dedicated server users continue to rely on simple words or letter sequences that can easily be cracked by brute force. Passwords shared between accounts are also alarmingly common.
Improving your approach to passwords could be the easiest and most effective strategy for reducing your vulnerability to DDoS and other types of attacks. At a minimum, you should develop a different password for every account that’s free of common words and phrases. Aim for a random string of letters, numbers, and characters.
Additionally, password resets should be completed regularly. If you struggle to keep your growing collection of passwords straight, consider using a password manager. Many reputable solutions are available as browser add-ons.
Create a DDoS Response Plan
What happens if, despite your best efforts to avoid DDoS issues, your system succumbs to an attack? Your response can determine whether incidents result in modest or extensive damage. Every minute matters, so it’s crucial that you’re fully prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Here’s how to create your plan:
- Delegate key tasks to a response team. This group should be made up of a few highly-trained individuals. All members should be aware of their specific responsibilities in the event of an attack. This understanding will enable them to respond in a swift and orderly manner, thereby minimizing the time-wasting effects of post-attack confusion.
- Determine how team members will be notified of potential or current attacks. If your server is compromised, responsible parties need to be made aware of the problem as soon as possible.
- Commit to regular server audits. These will help you determine whether you have sufficient protection against attacks and are able to respond quickly and effectively.
Perform Post-Attack Assessments
Perhaps you fell victim to an attack and are now struggling to get your dedicated server and web presence back on track. How you respond in this critical moment could determine how vulnerable you are to further threats. Unfortunately, it’s increasingly common for organizations to suffer multiple DDoS attacks within a short span of time. As such, it’s crucial that you learn from your previous mistakes and take action as soon as possible to prevent similar problems in the future.
If your dedicated server provides DDoS mitigation, you may receive a detailed report following an attack. Take advantage of this resource, which should include insight into the target Internet Protocol (IP), attack intensity, and the flow of traffic. Based on this feedback, you can adjust your response to enhance protection or improve uptime for authorized users.
The threat of DDoS interference is more real than ever, but that doesn’t mean that all hopes of a secure server are lost. With strategic server selection, basic security measures, and a fully developed response plan, you can make the most of your dedicated server while feeling confident that you’re prepared for every possible scenario.