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How to Protect Your Network from DDoS Attacks

How to Protect Your Network from DDoS Attacks

Distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks are very common to disrupt a network. There can be various reasons behind a network attack, from taking servers offline to causing damage to a business’s reputation. In this article, we will learn how to protect your network from DDoS attacks committed by hackers and cybercriminals. DDoS attacks can be very dangerous and can take down your entire infrastructure. This can lead to many disasters including users unable to access resources and important files.

Denial of service can come in many shapes and sizes. There can be some that may only slow down your network or servers, while others can take it completely offline. These forced downtimes can range from minutes to hours to even an entire day. You should protect your network and have all types of mitigations in place for staying safe and secure.

Below are 6 essential tips for DDoS protection.

  1. Have DDoS Protection, Defense, and Mitigation arrangements

The best offense is a good defense, that is why you should always have a DDoS mitigation plan about how you will react if an attack does occur. There are many cloud-based DDoS mitigation services out there. If you decide to go with such a service make sure it is transparent and seamless in its operation. Users should not know or feel that there is an attack going on. Be aware that there are many products out there that offer built-in ‘DDoS-Protection’ but they do not live up to their claim. They are often times not nearly as powerful and as capable as required compared to the attackers who have advanced a lot in their technology in the past few years.

Most people think that devices like load balancers, firewalls, intrusion-detection systems (IDS) and intrusion-prevention systems (IPS) will thwart these attacks; however, they are mistaken. When it comes to DDoS attacks the best way to counter them is to not let it happen in the first place as they are difficult to repel when an attack is ongoing. An example would be if you have a 5 Gbps network and the attack is of around 60 Gbps, it would be impossible to stop. You will need to have some upstream network providers to stop and mitigate attacks. They will make sure that the attack is stopped before it reaches your networks.

  1. Be ready for the high-volume attacks and not just the small ones

Always ensure that you have extra bandwidth available. You should have more bandwidth than you need at all times. Here is why:

  • If there is a sudden increase in traffic your server will be able to accommodate the spike in traffic 
  • If you are advertising a new product or service, the impact on the site performance will be less 
  • You should have at least a compromise of around 200% to 600% for bandwidth. The logic behind this is that if you face a DDoS attack you will have a couple of minutes to mitigate the attack until your servers are overwhelmed and shutdown
  1. Contact your hosting company or Internet Service Provider

Should you be facing an attack the best thing to do is to either call the ISP you are using and if you are not hosting your own servers, contact the hosting provider. You should inform them that your servers and network are under attack. They will usually have much more experienced and professional employees in their security department to help them deal with such an attack more efficiently. They can do so by doing ‘null route‘ to your traffic which will stop any malicious packets from reaching your server.

  1. Defend your network at the perimeter level

In the first few minutes of an attack, there are a few steps you can take to lower the impact by mitigating a network and having defenses at the perimeter. You can take a number of steps to ensure these technical changes. Below are a few of these changes:

  1. Connections that are not responsive and half-opened.
  2. Packages and packets that are spoofed and not formed properly should be dropped.
  3. Rate limiting your router also helps.
  4. Add filters to your firewall/router to block traffic from malicious sources.
  5. Make sure ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol), SYN (Synchronization), UDP (User Datagram Protocol) and other protocols have lower values/thresholds.
  6. Changing IP addresses can also be handy in some scenarios.
  1. Keep monitoring traffic (if you host the servers)

The quicker you identify if you are being attacked, the more time you will have to better act on the problem and stop it. To become more proficient at identifying spikes in traffic you should keep a watch on your daily traffic, especially inbound traffic. When you determine the baseline level of your site’s traffic, it will be much easier for you to spot abnormalities and attacks. Some common signs are a sudden huge spike in traffic. You should always have a plan on how to secure the network from a denial of service attack.

  1. Keep an eye on the application-layer

Criminals are getting more sophisticated along with the technology they are using. They are constantly updating and creating their techniques and method to meet the ever-improving cybersecurity industry. Attacks that happen on the application-layer are much harder to detect. They may not be as high-volume but their purpose is to disrupt access to an application. Start inspecting your packets more and see what is going on in that layer. Using a web protection tool can help you mitigate an application-layer DoS attack and protect your network. Another tip is to deploy your application on different servers in different locations. This way in the event of an attack you can come back live from the alternate location.

Final words

DDoS attacks are becoming a more frequent part of the online world. Hackers are now using vulnerable IoT (Internet of Things) devices to generate high-volume DDoS attacks. An example of this is the recent Memcached attacks. These attacks use vulnerable Memcached servers that are generating very powerful attacks that can have a massive impact on your network and applications. There are many disadvantages and downsides of being hit by a DoS attack. These range from your customers losing trust in you, using another service instead of yours because yours is offline to many others as well. I hope this guide has helped you and answered your question about how to protect your network from DDoS attacks, with some extra professional tips included.