DDoS Attacks Are Getting Larger: Are You Prepared To Fend Them Off?

DDoS Attacks Are Getting Larger: Are You Prepared To Fend Them Off?

Photo by Henry Hustava on Unsplash

A distributed denial of service attack is the equivalent of driving a truck through the front of a store. It’s not complicated, technically complex, or difficult to pull off. At the same time, the amount of damage it can potentially do is huge – and defending against it is extremely difficult.

That problem is only compounded by the growth of the Internet of Things. New devices are flooding onto the market at a downright alarming rate. Never mind computers, smartphones, and routers. Now, we’re seeing smart televisions, refrigerators, thermostats, and even coffee makers.

The problem is that the manufacturers of those systems and devices – the people responsible for safeguarding the software they use – aren’t security experts. More often than not, they treat security as an afterthought. As a result, security on connected devices is downright abysmal.

They’re easily targeted, and easily drafted into botnets.

I’m certain you can see where I’m going with this. Last year saw some of the largest DDoS attacks in history. And as more devices are brought online, they’re only going to grow larger.

I’m talking about botnets with thousands – maybe even tens or hundreds of thousands – of devices. Data floods that rapidly grow into the terabytes, and can cripple even the most robust systems. It isn’t just the size of these attacks that makes them intimidating, either.

It’s the fact that just about anyone can carry them out. See, even though DDoS attacks are themselves growing smarter and more sophisticated, you don’t need any technical knowledge to successfully pull one off. You can simply rent a botnet, point it at a target, and let it do the work for you.

So how exactly do you protect yourself against this sort of thing?

  • Blacklist suspicious IP addresses or device IDs. By controlling who can access your customer-facing systems, you’ll reduce the chance that you’ll be crippled by illegitimate traffic.
  • Incorporate traffic thresholds. Figure out your average traffic, and use a monitoring solution to keep track of abnormal traffic surges. You’ll need to be careful here, of course – sometimes, a traffic surge is legitimate.
  • Use a content delivery network with automatic load balancing. Networks like CloudFlare have measures in place to identify illegitimate traffic.
  • Have a game plan for when a DDoS attack takes out your networks, one that includes how you’ll communicate with your users and who is responsible for what during a crisis.
  • Use a physical DDoS protection appliance – many hosts can provide you with one, and there are plenty of services you can turn to online.

DDoS attacks are growing larger. It’s now more important than ever that you take measures to protect yourself from them. Because if you don’t, it may be only a matter of time before one cripples your business.

Matthew Davis is a technical writer and Linux geek for Future Hosting.

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