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DDoS attack
prevention:
Mitigating today's
threats

Author: Gary Hilson

Even the best-equipped cyber security team can find DDoS attack prevention overwhelming. However, an effective DDoS mitigation service can provide the peace of mind that comes with lowering the likelihood of a successful attack.

DDoS stands for distributed denial of service. It's slightly different from most security threats because it's not malware or a virus, nor a typical data breach that results from a hack. Rather, a DDoS attack is a torrential flood of traffic or packet requests that overwhelms your IT systems, so your users can no longer access the applications and data they need. It even becomes impossible to conduct transactions with your customers and business partners.

Once the attack is over and everything is restored, these customers and partners may have lost faith in your security posture. A DDoS protection service not only keeps your systems running but also helps you maintain a reputation as a reliable company to do business with.

DDoS attacks are growing exponentially

DDoS attacks are getting bigger and bolder every year as they look to affect more and more systems with higher volumes of traffic. They affect workstations, email servers, file shares and even IP-based voice communications systems. And with more people working remotely, there are more opportunities for your DDoS attack prevention measures to be circumvented.

One of the reasons to consider a DDoS protection service is because there are dozens of different kinds of DDoS attacks, making it difficult to scale up protection without a service. Five of the most common types include:
  • Amplification DDoS attacks: In this scenario, an attacker hides their IP address and uses a legitimate computer within your network to send a small packet to a server. By slightly altering the sender's address, they're able to make it look like it came from your server. The fake response data is so large that it slows the system down, leading to malfunctions when attempting even the simplest tasks.
  • User Datagram Protocol (UDP) flooding: This attack sends a high volume of UDP packets to random ports. The receiving system begins to look for any listening application to the port, but in the absence of a response, the system sends an error message back to the sender in the form of an ICMP packet. Because the sender sends a great deal of these UDP messages to the victim system, the resources needed to reply are massive, leading to legitimate requests being rejected.
  • Internet Protocol (IP) fragmentation attacks: A packet uniquely designed for the intended victim is broken down into smaller bits by the attacker. When this fragmentation of many bits reaches the victim's address, they're reassembled. What ultimately overwhelms the system is the multiple packets developed by the attacker, which overlap. The operating system eventually crashes because reassembling the many packets becomes so confusing and overwhelming.
  • A SYN flood: This is when an attacker keeps initiating a connection without finalizing it. Resources end up being consumed by the system as it waits for half-opened connections to be completed, eventually making the system unresponsive to legitimate traffic because it's so overwhelmed.
  • Ping of death: If the first four scenarios didn't sound dramatic enough, a "ping of death" probably does. This attack sends data in split packets. The problem is that the operating system on the receiving computer has no idea how to handle the bigger packets, leading to a system error and crash.

How a DDoS protection service can help

The type of DDoS attack doesn't matter so much as the impact—your business becomes unavailable. Today, consumers and employees expect companies to be always-on. Even if it doesn't actually affect their data, your customers may lose trust if you're not able to implement reliable DDoS attack prevention. However, it's important to note that these attacks - once focused solely on simple disruption - are increasingly being paired with demands for a ransom payment to cease the attack, which is all the more reason to invest in a DDoS protection service.

It's not feasible to expect your internal security resources to keep pace with the rising number of DDoS attacks or their overwhelming impact, especially if you use a variety of service providers and carriers to manage a multitude of internet-facing websites, applications and infrastructures. Fortunately, a cloud-based DDoS protection service can protect your IP address no matter how many internet service providers or carriers you use. Every network can be protected because you maintain routing control and can activate the protection for any part of your digital infrastructure as needed.

A DDoS protection service also means you don't have to keep track of the dozens of new and sophisticated high-volume attacks that hackers employ. Protection services span your entire enterprise environment, continuously scanning IP network traffic for irregular patterns. The key to DDoS attack prevention is intelligence to detect the bad traffic hiding in the good traffic, and a service provider can offer that level of intelligence. You can have peace of mind knowing that you'll keep pace with evolving DDoS attacks without the huge capital and operating expenses that would be necessary if you attempted to do so on your own.

As part of a broader security strategy, adopting a cloud-based DDoS protection service enables you to confidently protect yourself against current and future large-scale attacks while alleviating the burden on your network and security perimeter systems. Not only do you ensure continued availability to your customers, but you also protect your reputation, safeguard your brand, and keep your services and applications available to power your business.

Learn more about how Verizon can help your company stay secure against the threat of DDoS attacks.