DDoS attacks, short for “Distributed Denial-of-Service” attacks, are an attempt to disrupt and frequently stop the flow of web traffic on a server. They are increasingly used by hackers and other malicious actors on the Internet to financially harm companies and individuals or to blackmail them for various reasons.

While there have been many high profile DDoS attacks in the past few years, they can happen to anyone. Below is some important information about how to prevent and mitigate the damage caused by the various DDoS attacks.

Protection against a DDoS attack with a VPN

VPNs should be seen as an important part of your cybersecurity strategy when it comes to fending off and thwarting DDoS attacks. This is because an attacker would need your network location in order to effectively attack you. This includes knowing your IP address.

Since VPNs obscure your IP address and direct all attempts to analyze your connection to the VPN server, they are invaluable. Browse popular VPN providers to find out which ones offer you the best protection.

The anatomy of a volume-based DDoS attack

DDoS attacks begin with several compromised computer systems that are commanded by malware and then armed against the target server. These vulnerable devices can include computers as well as other “Internet of Things” (that is, anything connected to the Internet that is often found in people’s homes, in public, and in the things they carry with them ).

The person or group carrying out the DDoS attack instructs the devices they control to essentially direct spam requests to the target’s IP address, eventually overloading the server or network. What happens in the end is that a site’s available bandwidth is used up processing bogus traffic. This leads to a “denial of service” for the regular traffic of the website which can lead to a loss of business / visibility etc. It’s no wonder that some of the largest websites are constantly suspicious of DDoS campaigns.

The anatomy of a protocol attack

Protocol attacks are different, although their endgame (which disrupts normal traffic on your website) is the same. Protocol attacks attempt to burden a server by consuming its resources and eventually taking it offline.

When these attempts are unsuccessful, they usually try to consume firewall and load balancer resources, making a site nearly impossible to access. These attacks attempt to exploit the Internet protocol architecture by sending packets from the server for malicious messages.

The anatomy of an application-level attack

An application level attack takes yet another approach. This approach focuses on the level of the server that is responsible for answering connection requests and loading web pages. Using this method, a spammer triggers a deluge of connection requests (e.g., page update requests) until a server becomes so flooded that it can no longer respond and crashes.

The financial cost of a DDoS attack

The bottom line is that if you are a business owner, DDoS attacks present the potential for lost revenue. This comes in two forms: the time your website is down due to an attack and a decrease in customer trust due to the attack.

Depending on how big your company is and how much sales you generate online, a DDoS attack can potentially have a significant impact on your sales. There are many stories of companies being taken out of business due to a DDoS attack.

Once your website’s security has been breached and customers find out about it, it is next to impossible to regain that trust. People want to feel that their information is safe when they use your website and do business with you. If they believe that it is easy for you to be targeted, they will likely believe that it is easy for them to be targeted too.

DDoS and the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things, commonly known as “IOT” for short, describes the myriad of devices that we use and interact with in our daily lives and that are connected in some way to the Internet. Often times, these things have no user interface, which can lead people to believe they are less prone to hacking and abuse than they really are.

However, the consumer Internet of Things is expected to grow by more than seven billion devices worldwide by the end of 2020, a massive increase in the number of potential devices that can be used and targeted for DDoS attacks. Our increasing connectedness brings with it a corresponding increase in the threat of cyber attacks.

Conclusion

DDoS attacks are one of the most common cybersecurity threats on the Internet. Once you are aware of them, plan for them, and most importantly try to mitigate them, you should consider the cost of doing business online. There are tools like VPNs that can give website owners extra security. However, in an increasingly connected world, cybersecurity will be a growing concern for websites of all sizes.