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DDoS attack
protection in
the time of 5G

Author: Shane Schick

Mitigating the risk of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks has always been a key part of IT security strategy, but the rise of 5G networks could intensify the importance of DDoS attack protection.

By flooding an online service or website with too many service requests at once, cyber criminals can use DDoS attacks to effectively shut them down. Targets include industries ranging from financial services and healthcare to utilities and even the public sector.

A successful DDoS attack means customers can't access the services they need. Employees are locked out of critical applications. Several high-profile companies suffered lost revenues and long-term damage to their reputation when DDoS attacks made the headlines.

How 5G is raising the stakes of DDoS attack protection

While 5G network rollouts are bringing a host of advantages to organizations of all kinds, they also introduce the potential for DDoS attacks to proliferate.

Compared with previous generations of network technology, for example, 5G has the potential for huge capacity, someday supporting up to a million devices per square kilometer. That should allow considerable growth in smart devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), which, in turn, could pave the way for everything from autonomous vehicles to smart cities.

On the other hand, cyber criminals could take advantage of that increased attack surface and harness those smart devices for launching DDoS threats. They can also take over vulnerable servers, routers and other nodes on the network to form an army of bots.

Since IT security teams can't block a single illicit source, the distributed nature of these attacks makes them particularly difficult to contain. All this means that DDoS attack protection is more important than ever.

How to protect your network from DDoS attacks

DDoS attack protection tools are already available today to help organizations distinguish between regular and potentially malicious traffic. Organizations that haven't already deployed them should make plans to do so in concert with 5G rollouts and IoT projects.

A security strategy should also prioritize regularly updating and patching any vulnerabilities on smart devices connected to the IoT. Otherwise, it becomes even easier for attackers to exploit them for their own purposes.

In some cases, virtualizing some security functions and moving them to the cloud will also help avoid increased latency and improve DDoS attack protection.

This is an area where human effort alone will not be enough to monitor for DDoS threats. Instead, when considering how to protect your network from DDoS attacks, look for trusted partners who can help guide you in deploying automation where it makes sense.

Some examples could include monitoring outbound traffic, blocking known botnet recruiters and sending alerts or notifications when IP addresses are compromised. Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies such as machine learning will also advance to help make DDoS attack protection and detection easier by creating a baseline for normal traffic and spotting anomalies.

Increased DDoS attacks don't have to be a trade-off for enjoying the powerful capabilities of 5G. It just takes increased awareness of the threat and making sure your IT security strategy evolves accordingly.

Learn how to protect your network from DDoS attacks using Verizon's DDoS Shield.