steps to prevent DDoS attacks

Even at a nascent stage, organizations should take steps to prevent DDoS attacks. DDoS protection is important as it enables malicious actors to flood a network with traffic causing it to shut down permanently or temporarily. Overloading of traffic disrupts connectivity, disabling legitimate users from visiting your website.

This can further lead to other forms of cybercrimes like phishing and spoofing, which can be mitigated if you use SPF, DKIM, and DMARC

This blog will take you through 10 effective ways to prevent a DDoS attack and its 3 types; application-layer attacks, protocol attacks, and volumetric attacks.

What is a DDoS Attack?

A DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attack is a cybercrime where hackers aim to crash a network or server by overloading it with fake traffic. The unforeseen spike in messages, connection requests, or data packets overwhelms the targeted system causing it to slow or shut down. 

It’s vital to prevent DDoS attacks because their motive is to:

  • Manipulate targets into paying a hefty ransom.
  • Disrupt service or communications for professional rivalry.
  • Hamper brand image.
  • Distract the incident response team to attempt a bigger attack.

The sophisticated techniques of threat actors have even targeted IT tycoons like Google and Amazon Web Services. Thus, every business owner must practice and spread the methods of DDoS protection.

Types of DDoS Attacks

There are various types of DDoS attacks, hitting varying components of a network connection, typically grouped into- Application layer, protocol, and volumetric attacks.

Application Layer Attacks

It directly attacks the application by exploiting specific system vulnerabilities like SIP, voice services, and BGP. The intention of attempting an application layer DDoS attack is to disable the application to deliver the desired content.

Protocol Layer Attacks

It’s important to prevent DDoS attacks that affect the protocol layer as they can exhaust server resources and intermediate communication equipment. 

Volumetric Attacks

Volumetric attacks decrease your website’s bandwidth using amplification techniques. It’s hard to detect this as the traffic appears to come from multiple IP addresses. 

10 Steps to Prevent DDoS Attacks?

You may be unable to stop an attacker from planning an attack, but adequate preventive measures can always help you. Here’s what you can do.

1. Prepare a DDoS Response Plan

The first step toward DDoS protection is to prepare a plan that focuses on how your company will respond in case of a successful attack. It should be a detailed plan; the more complex the structure is, the more clarity you need. A general response plan includes:

  • A systems checklist
  • A trained response team
  • Notification and escalation protocols
  • How to continue operations
  • List of mission-critical systems
  • List of internal and external entities who should be informed about an attack

2. Decrease Attack Surface Exposure

You can minimize the scope of attack and intensity of damage by reducing the surface area exposed to threat actors. So, protect your important documents, applications, ports, protocols, servers, and other entry points to prevent DDoS attacks.

Use a CDN service and WAF on your network’s edge to block direct access to server and application resources. This helps in caching the content globally and requests services from them. WAF filters out all the un-cached content requests.

You must also use load balancers to protect web servers and computational resources from exposure. Also, educate your team to clean websites or applications regularly by eliminating irrelevant services. Hackers exploit these as entry points.

3. Have Server Redundancy

Using multiple distributed servers makes it challenging for malicious actors to hit all the servers simultaneously. Other servers will remain safe if they launch an attack on a single hosting device. They can also take the traffic load until the targeted system is back online. 

To avoid network bottlenecks, you can host servers at data centers and colocation facilities in various geographies. A CDN can also help share the load.

4. Watch Out for The Red Flags

Take action for DDoS protection if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Poor connectivity
  • Slow performance
  • Excess traffic at a specific webpage or endpoint
  • Frequent crashes
  • Unusual traffic emerging from a single group or IP address.

It’s important to understand not only high volume traffic is dangerous, but low volume traffic with a short duration can also lead to breaches.

5. Early Detection and Continuous Traffic and packet Profiling

Early detection is indispensable for DDoS protection. The most effective way is to monitor website traffic, requests regularly, and data packets to comprehend patterns and behavior. This helps you block malicious traffic and requests, and payloads.

Instruct your team to respond as per the response plan drafted if they notice any suspicious activities. This gives you sufficient time to prevent DDoS attacks.

6. Perform Vulnerability Assessments Regularly

A vulnerability assessment is a systematic review of security weaknesses in a system. The network and wireless assessment of policies bar unauthorized access to private or public networks and network-accessible resources. This assessment also includes loopholes in web applications and their source code using automated scanning tools.

7. Limiting Network Broadcasting

Cybercriminals are likely to send requests to all the devices on your network for maximum impact. You can counter this attempt by restricting network broadcasting between devices. 

To prevent DDoS attacks, limit or turn off broadcast forwarding to block a high-volume attempt. Also, educate your employees to disable echo and charge services wherever possible.

8. Ensure Robust Network Security

The intensity of attack and scope of damage increase if an attacker has sufficient time to pile up requests. Too many requests on any network are helpful for early detection, which also limits the blast radius. Here are some ways to ensure a high level of network security.

  • Firewalls and intrusion detection systems to filter traffic.
  • Antivirus and antimalware programs to detect and remove viruses and malware.
  • Tools to prevent spoofing by verifying if a source address is consistent with the origin addresses. 
  • Ensure that all the network endpoints, like desktops, laptops, mobile devices, etc., are safe. They’re often exploited as entry points for attempting malicious activities. 
  • Network segmentation to separate systems into subnets. 

9. Develop and Practice Good Cyber Hygiene Habits

Your team must be trained to practice good cyber hygiene habits to prevent DDoS attacks. These include: 

  • Set strong passwords and change them regularly. A unique and complex password has at least 12 characters, including numbers, symbols, capital, and lowercase letters. 
  • Avoid sharing and reusing passwords.
  • Use two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security to your accounts. This will ensure hackers can’t access them despite stealing your passwords.
  • Employ device encryption on laptops, tablets, smartphones, external drives, backup tapes, and cloud storage for DDoS protection.

10. Shift to the Cloud

Shifting to the cloud won’t eliminate the chances of DDoS attacks, but it helps mitigate the effects. Cloud’s wide bandwidth distributes your data. 

You can also read about the top 5 email security tools of all times to stay ahead of threat actors. 

Final Thoughts

Companies must take measures to prevent DDoS attacks as they can impact your finances, client relationships, and brand value. Start by creating a response plan, so your team knows what to do if an attack occurs. Spread awareness to notice warning signs like unusual traffic from an IP address, poor connectivity, slow performance, frequent crashes, etc.

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