• May 3, 2016

The Digital Mob Is at Your Door: The Dangers of Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack can greatly slow or even shut down a website, and hackers use this form of cyber attack to inflict massive harm. But certain tools and solutions can thwart attacks.

A DDoS attack often means thousands of unique IP addresses bombard a site with digital traffic. The effect is like a mob blocking the door of a building. About 1 Gbps of traffic can be enough to take down a website. Attacks of less than 1 Gbps can slow operations or, even worse, provide a smokescreen for hackers to install malware.

An October 2015 report by Neustar contains sobering statistics about DDoS attacks. Half of all 760 executives from around the world who responded to the survey said their organizations were attacked in 2014 or early 2015. More than 80 percent of those organizations were attacked repeatedly, and more than a third of those found malware or viruses as a result of the attacks. One in four that were attacked experienced theft of data or funds as a result of DDoS incidents.

Fight Back with a Plan

The best way to fight back is to include DDoS mitigation solutions in the enterprise data security plan. These techniques are specifically designed to detect and thwart such attacks—both high-volume and low-and-slow attack tactics—and allow enterprises to continue with normal operations, even during an event.

The principle behind DDoS mitigation is to correctly identify incoming traffic in order to separate legitimate activity from human-like bots and hijacked web browsers. This is done by comparing signatures and examining attributes of the traffic to filter out illegitimate activity. In the past, this work was done with manually activated tools—with ongoing training, experts can tell the difference between a false positive and true attack—but there are also highly effective automated solutions available today.

Cloud-Based Security Services

An increasingly popular approach to DDoS mitigation is to use cloud-based security services, reducing the enterprise’s need for infrastructure architecture. When an attack is detected, inbound traffic is redirected to the nearest scrubbing center, which applies filtering to reduce DDoS interference. Clean traffic is routed back to the customer’s network.

This outsourced solution to DDoS mitigation is more cost-effective for most enterprises than it would be for them to provide this enterprise data security solution for themselves. Outsourcers have the ability to quickly scale up capacity to cope with DDoS attacks and to stay current on filtering parameters and techniques.

With the proliferation of DDoS attacks, enterprises must be prepared for an attack at any time. As such, it’s well worth the time and effort to investigate these services as part of a cybersecurity risk management framework.

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