Contrary to popular belief, small and medium businesses aren’t safe from malicious network threats and cyberattacks. In fact, over the last few years, the number of attacks directed at small companies has increased significantly. According to research done by Verizon in 2019, 43% of cybersecurity threats target small and medium operations. Of the 43%, 60% of these businesses went out of business a year after the attack. 

Cybersecurity should be a priority for all businesses that maintain a digital presence. Allocating funds for cybersecurity measures protects your investment and safeguards your brand’s trajectory.

Identifying corporate security risks and other significant issues is the first step in creating effective security protocols. Knowing your enemy is half the battle won. As far as cybersecurity is concerned, DDoS attacks can pose a real threat to your operation. This article explores DDoS attacks, including the most common DDoS threat types and effective protection techniques. 

What is a DDoS Attack?

A distributed denial of service attack, or DDoS attack, is a form of malicious activity that aims to impede the normal traffic flow on the target server. A successful DDoS attempt can render a website or application inaccessible to legitimate users. A DDoS attack often exploits multiple compromised computer systems to flood the server. 

DDoS attacks are akin to vehicles clogging up a highway resulting in a jam that prevents the regular flow of traffic. 

How Does a DDoS Attack Work?

Hackers exploit vulnerable networks of Internet-connected machines to flood a server with malicious traffic. These devices are infected with malware that allows a hacker to control them remotely. By controlling multiple devices, malicious entities create botnets directed to send requests to the targeted network’s IP address. These requests may overwhelm the server and render it inaccessible to legitimate traffic. 

What are the Common Types of DDoS Attacks?

Different forms of DDoS attacks target the various layers within a network connection. Each network connection is typically composed of seven layers. Nevertheless, DDoS activity can be divided into three general categories:

Application Layer

Often referred to as Layer 7 attacks as per the OSI network applications model, this type of DDoS infiltration aims to exhaust a website or application’s finite resources such as disk space and memory. This is executed by opening multiple connections and initiating transaction requests. 

Protocol Attacks

Protocol Attacks are designed to target Layer3 and Layer 4 of network connections. The main goal of this type of DDoS activity is to use up an infrastructure’s processing capacity, including servers, firewalls, and load balances.

Volumetric Attacks

Volumetric attacks are the most common form of DDoS activity. These attacks render a website or application unreachable by overloading a network with malicious bandwidth. 

How to Protect Your Network from a DDoS Attack

DDoS attacks have become more sophisticated over the last few years. It can be challenging to distinguish legitimate website or application traffic from malicious ones.

As they say, prevention is better than cure, which is especially true for DDoS attacks. Below are a few steps that your company can take to protect your digital assets from malicious activity:

  • Know Your Status Quo

DDoS attacks are notoriously difficult to identify. This is because it is challenging to differentiate legitimate traffic from malicious ones. The first step in protecting your network is identifying your server’s status quo. Knowing what is considered normal makes it easier to spot irregularities within the network. 

  • Remain Proactive Through a Cybersecurity Policy

When it comes to DDoS attacks or any malicious activity, for that matter, preparation is better than response. Building an effective cybersecurity policy can prevent an attack from imposing severe damage on your network. Your cybersecurity policy should include countermeasures in the event of a successful breach. For DDoS attacks, IP-based Access Control Lists are effective in blocking unwanted traffic from all malicious sources. 

  • Backup Your Data 

Backing up your data plays a crucial role in minimizing the downtime you might experience in the instance of DDoS activity. While your security team deals with the attack, you can redirect traffic to another page using the same data from your main website or application. 

How to Identify a DDoS Attack as it Happens

When it comes to mitigating the effects of DDoS attacks, an urgent response is key. Thankfully, there are tell-tale signs that malicious actors targeted a network intent on executing a DDoS attack:

  • Suspicious traffic originating from a single IP address
  • A barrage of users with the same behavioral profiles such as device type and location. 
  • An Unexplainable flood of traffic to a single page
  • Odd surges in website traffic that happen in unpopular times of the day

What To Do When Under a DDoS Attack

Most cybersecurity applications come with a small margin of error. Even with your diligence and proactiveness, DDoS attacks might still infiltrate your server. In such an event, here is a quick guide on how to deal with the unwelcome interruption: 

Alert the Security Team

Alerting the security team is the first step in addressing a DDoS attack. After all, it is the team that knows how to execute countermeasures and manage the malicious activity. The alert should include the following information:

  • Current Status of the Website or Application
  • Time and Date of the Onset of the Attack
  • Affected Assets
  • Overall Impact on User

Employ Countermeasures

Once the attack brief is relayed, it is time to enact countermeasures that have been identified previously on your company’s cybersecurity policy. Ideally, there is a level of automation in executing these countermeasures. 

Measure Defense Performance

After the countermeasure has been deployed, it is vital to remain vigilant and measure the effectiveness of the cybersecurity measures set in motion. Through monitoring, you can assess if more countermeasures are needed to halt the activity altogether. 

DDoS threats can impose severe damage to your overall operation. A successful attack creates downtime on your digital assets. This can halt production and deter potential customers from making an inquiry or completing a purchase. 

Taking a proactive approach to your cybersecurity protocols is key to protecting your digital assets from malicious activity – DDoS or otherwise. That said, there are plenty of cybersecurity options available in the market. It is a matter of finding the right fit for your operation. 

SecureBrain’s catalog of tried-and-tested cybersecurity products serves as a great complement to basic security protocols. With our cloud-based website scanner, you can protect your online assets through a system that runs security checks 24/7. We offer an added layer of real-time protection that you can’t find anywhere else!