How to prevent DDoS Attacks – 6 Ways to Make Your Server Secure

April 30th, 2021

Would you believe it if we told that the first-ever DDoS attack was due to the curiosity of a 13-year-old boy from Illinois? In 1974, he forced 31 computer terminals from the University of Illinois to shut down by using what was then known as the new “ext” command. However, the first major DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attack came in 1999 when a hacker used a tool called Trinoo. By doing so, he was able to bring down the entire University of Minnesota’s computer system for two whole days. This set the groundwork for other larger, widespread cyber-attacks that we see in today’s digital world.

From the early 70s to the modern day, whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a small business enterprise, cybersecurity is a major threat to your business. Statistics state that as of March 24th, 2021 the world has seen more 50 GBPS attacks than we had seen in all of 2019. Preventing DDoS attacks by implementing effective strategies is paramount to secure your web and digital assets.

Let us first try and understand what a DDoS attack is.

What Is DDoS Attack?

Imagine you are on a highway and as you approach an intersection, more cars flood in, resulting in a massive traffic jam. A DDoS attack is quite similar wherein a malicious attacker floods a web server with traffic to disrupt its normal functionality.

Usually, DDoS attacks are carried out by bombarding the target server with messages, requests for connections, and fake packets. When the server tries to accommodate all these requests simultaneously, the bandwidth limit exceeds, ultimately leading to a total server collapse.

Taking the highway traffic analogy again, when you are caught in a jam, not only are you stuck, but the cars behind you are stuck as well. So, if the targeted server is critical to your business, the impact can be so devastating that it can bring your entire business to a standstill.

Normally, the traffic comes from a group of compromised systems and devices, also known as botnets that contain malware. As more IoT devices are connected to the internet, the chances of a cyber threat are much greater.

What is DDoS Attack? and types of d DDoS Attack

Types of DDoS Attacks:

DDoS attacks can vary based on the attack vectors and how they are used. Here are the most common types of DDoS attacks.

Volumetric Attack:

These are the attacks that are aimed at the server’s network to suffocate its bandwidth. This most common type of attack has just one agenda: to overwhelm the server’s capacity by bombarding with false requests. While the system is on the lookout for these malicious requests, the normal traffic gets disrupted.

Protocol Attack:

This attack, though not intended on the server, slowly eats away all the server resources. Usually, the attack is targeted at network areas that are responsible for verifying network connections. Deliberate slow pings, malformed pings, and partial packets are sent which ends up overloading the memory, eventually crashing the system. In addition to that, since protocol attacks bypass web application firewalls, they cannot be stopped by firewalls.

Application Layer Attack:

The target of this type of attack is majorly the L7 layer in the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) models. The predominant focus of this attack is disrupting web traffic. It is usually launched through HTTP, HTTPS, SMTP or DNS. The attackers find the most vulnerable part in an application and prevent the server from delivering content to its user. This type of attack is more difficult to prevent because they use much lesser resources compared to the other two. This tricks the server into thinking that it is just experiencing some higher volumes of legitimate traffic.

6 Ways to Prevent a DDoS Attack

6 Ways to Prevent a DDoS Attack:

Leveraging automation could help prevent cyberattacks to some extent. However, human intellect and monitoring are essential parameters for your server to enjoy full protection. Understanding how DDoS attacks work and being familiar with the infrastructure of your server are highly critical in preventing cyber threats. Here at EGI, we propose a few tips on preventing DDoS attacks.

1. Stringent Network Monitoring Practices

The first step is to gauge when you can be hit with one. Leveraging apt technologies to monitor your network visually and in real-time is a start. Knowing the average amount of bandwidth that your server/site use makes it easier for you to spot the anomalies. DDoS attacks often offer visual clues and the more familiar you are with your network behavior, the easier it is to cut the attack off at the source.

2. Conduct Basic Security Hygiene

You do not have to be a tech wiz to implement this basic step. The best practices include using complex passwords, resetting them at least every couple of months, and avoiding noting them down. Seemingly trivial, these measures ensure a basic level of security against DDoS threats.

3. Setting up traffic thresholds

Partial mitigation of DDoS attacks is possible by implementing a few technical security measures involving setting traffic threshold limits such as rate-limiting on your routers and filters on packets from malicious sources. In addition to that, setting lower SYN, ICMP & UDP flood drop thresholds, IP blacklisting, geo-blocking, and signature identification are a few other techniques that can be implemented at the entry level of DDoS mitigation.

4. Ensuring that your security infrastructure is up-to-date

Both the strongest and the weakest link in your infrastructure is your network. Make sure you are aware of the ins and outs of your network infrastructure. If your network has an outdated version of a system, make sure that it is either removed or updated. These prove to be the entry point for attacks in case they are compromised.

Ensure that your data centers and systems are constantly updated and link your web application firewalls with other network security systems. Furthermore, contact your hosting provider for strategizing your server protection plan.

5. Monitor your server capacity and make sure it is sufficient

Volumetric attacks usually try to overwhelm your server’s bandwidth and it is only wise to take a step to overpower your bandwidth. This ensures that your server can handle sudden and unexpected traffic surges. This step may not entirely stop a DDoS attack but it will buy you more time as you prepare a defense.

6. Have a DDoS response plan handy

A DDoS attack can hit you any day at any time, and the impact can be disastrous. It is always better to have a response plan handy and be combat-ready. Here is what your response plan must include:

  • A Mandatory Tool-checklist: A list of all the tools that will be adopted and this includes advanced threat detection, assessment, filtering, software, and hardware.
  • A Backup Response Team: A dedicated team of professionals to carry out the damage control process once the attack is initiated.
  • Clear Escalation Protocols: Know whom to notify, contact and escalate the issue in the event of a DDoS attack
  • Communication Plan: A clear agenda for contacting all the major stakeholders, and convey the news in real-time.

Conclusion:

DDoS attacks can disrupt your business’s online presence, impede productivity, and can cause a huge dent in your revenue. In the advent of an attack, don’t panic, be proactive and assign the right people for damage control.

As today’s cyberthreats and security concerns grow by leaps and bounds, EGI is proud to offer advanced DDoS protection with each colocation and dedicated server plan. We have deployed one of the largest Layers 3 through 7 monitoring and advanced AI mitigation platforms. Combining a global anycast network with the power of Stateful Mitigation to instantly identify and mitigate massive attacks.

Get in touch with our experts.