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How Can DDoS Affect Your Business?

Since the start of the millennium, cybercrime has become an ever-increasing threat to society as our daily lives have steadily moved into the digital realm.

I am sure a lot of you watching this use the Internet or online applications to undertake your day-to-day job. Therefore, whether you work in a Fortune 500 company or a small firm, your business is at risk of a cyber-attack.

Implementing effective DDoS protection is key to ensuring your web property is secure and that you are ready to fight off any raids.

A distributed denial of service attack or ‘DDoS attack’ is a common type of cyber-attack where an attacker aims to impair the function of a web server by overwhelming it with fake traffic.

So how do these attacks work?

Network resources, such as websites, have a finite limit to how many users can access their server at a time. Simultaneously, the system that connects the server to the Internet will also have limited bandwidth and capacity. Criminals, using a network of connected online devices, collectively known as a Botnet or ‘zombie network’, will send an extremely large number of requests to their victim to saturate the server with huge volumes of traffic. These connected devices, often PCs, routers, or mobile devices are infected with malware that enables attackers to gain control so that the attacks come from devices across the internet making it harder to detect and deflect. These actions mean the server will exceed capacity and the level of service will be hindered and suffer in several ways:

Firstly, the response to requests will be much slower than normal, or secondly, some – or all – users requests may be totally ignored. So, if for example you are running an e-commerce website, and your customers are unable to reach your site, you would see a reduction in revenue. If you are a banking institution, and your staff are unable to access online systems to process requests, this would have a significant impact on your clients. In addition, the very nature of DDoS attacks means that they can affect a business for a short period or for weeks, even months.

But, what to attackers wish to achieve with these attacks?

Motivations behind a DDoS attack may differ. In some instances, it may be to bring down a competitor or for financial gain or a smokescreen for other nefarious activity. Others can be unfortunate random attacks of cyber-vandalism. Nonetheless, protecting your business is essential.

By implementing software that detects attackers and redirects them to a scrubbing centre where infectious data is cleaned, while still allowing for the clean traffic to pass through, instead of having to shut off a web server completely and making it inaccessible to real users. In modern Internet, DDoS traffic comes in many forms. Therefore, it is important for a company to evaluate what type of DDoS attack they are most vulnerable to experiencing and apply a protection program accordingly.

These days there are hundreds of different methods of DDoS attacks, however they often fall into 3 main types.

  1. Volume attacks, which employ methods that generate massive volumes of traffic completely saturates bandwidth, creating traffic jams that make it impossible for legitimate traffic to flow into or out of target site.
  2. Protocol attacks that are designed to eat up the processing capacity of network infrastructure resources like servers and firewalls with malicious connection requests. These target Layer 3 and 4 of the 7-layer Open System Interconnection model used to define modes of interconnection between different components in a networking system.

And lastly, number 3, application attacks which exploit weaknesses the application layer; Layer 7 – where the end-user application resides. These are some of the more sophisticated DDoS attacks that open connections and initiate process and transaction requests that consume resources like disk space and memory.

By understanding potential vulnerabilities in your system, you can identify threats and plan to reduce or limit their effect on your business.

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