A DDoS attack can annihilate your website’s foundation. It can crash, go offline, and fail to meet your users’ expectations.
That’s why it’s important that you take steps to prevent a DDoS attack from happening.
A DDoS (Distributed Denial Of Service) attack involves an enormous volume of traffic being directed at a specific website with malicious intent. The goal is to overload the website’s servers so they can’t handle the traffic. This can cause the website to crash and go offline, and it can even corrupt the site’s content, adversely affecting its ability to meet legitimate user requests.
This article we will cover:
- What is a DDoS attack?
- How and why do DDoS attacks happen?
- How can you prevent a DDoS attack?
Let’s get started!
What Is a DDoS Attack?
As mentioned above, when a DDoS attack happens, a large volume of fake traffic is sent to a website in an attempt to weaken its host servers until it crashes. The site under attack typically crashes because the increased traffic exhausts the bandwidth limit or overloads the servers that the website relies on.
There are a couple of types of DDoS attacks you should be familiar with.
The first type occurs when traffic is directed at the entire website. This is meant to shut down the website as a whole and prevent it from functioning normally.
The second type involves the attacker directing the traffic to specific parts of the website or targeting a hosted application.
The important thing to note is that both kinds of attack are using a large, unexpected increase in traffic to overwhelm the website’s bandwidth and server capacity, with the goal of either total website shut-down or disabling specific functionality.
How and Why Do DDoS Attacks Happen?
There are a lot of hackers with malicious intent that want to break your website. They use a variety of ways to initiate attacks, including the following:
- Asymmetric traffic attacks, where a website receives a high volume of fake user requests that are intended to over-consume server resources.
- Targeted traffic attacks that increase the load on a hosted application, causing it to fail.
- Multi-level attacks that target both the website and the hosted application at the same time until both crash.
Hackers generate illegitimate traffic from multiple IP addresses, so it’s very hard for the victims of DDoS attacks to detect the source.
But, why do DDoS attacks happen?
Hackers engage in DDoS attacks for a number of reasons. For instance, a competitor may want to attack your website to harm your business. A hacker may want to attack your site to extract personal and business data.
If you sell goods and services through your website, a DDoS attack can stop you from serving customers or making sales. That can cost your business time and money, and even damage its reputation.
Preventing a DDoS attack is far better than overcoming the consequences of one.
How Can You Prevent a DDoS Attack?
As frightening as DDoS attacks can be, the good news is they’re fairly easy to prevent. This section will go over the five ways you can protect your site from a DDoS attack.
Invest in Good Network Hardware
Investing in high-quality network hardware can help you detect unexpected spikes in website traffic and even block them completely. Your network hardware includes all the components that help transmit data across a network, including your router, the cables you use to connect your systems, network switches, and interface cards.
If you invest in great equipment, you can configure your network hardware to prevent DDoS attacks. One way to do this is to modify your network firewall settings so that requests from outside your network are ignored. This approach can work well for enterprise applications that are used by internal staff members, keeping those applications up and running, safe from external users of any type.
For a small business owner or website administrator, it can be very hard to invest in expensive network hardware. Moreover, people won’t always have the resources and skills to manage a private network hardware system.
We recommend that you use a managed hosting provider.
Choose one that invests in great network hardware so your website is secure. That way, you won’t have to bear the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining the expensive network infrastructure needed to support your website.
Hire a DDoS Mitigation Service
Another technique to prevent attacks is to hire a DDoS mitigation service. Their way of preventing attacks is to route all incoming traffic through a filter, so that only genuine traffic hits your website or application.
It makes sense to hire a DDoS mitigation service if you’re susceptible to a large, complex DDoS attack. If you’re using a managed hosting service for your website, then hiring a separate DDoS mitigation service may not be needed as your provider should offer their own service.
Eliminate Website Vulnerabilities
The best way to prevent a DDoS attack is to eliminate all vulnerabilities on your website. A site that’s supported by a strong network and hosting service is far less likely to be the victim of a successful attack.
If you use a WordPress website, make sure to regularly update the version you’re using, so the software includes the latest safeguards against DDoS attacks.
Talk to your hosting provider about whether they regularly update their systems, software, and firewalls. You and your hosting provider share responsibility for protecting your site against DDoS attacks.
You can install plugins that stabilize and strengthen your website by intelligently managing all incoming traffic. Don’t install too many security plugins and choose them very carefully.
Many plugins, while intended to protect your website, are actually quite vulnerable to an attack themselves. Using high-quality prevention tools is important.
Use Web Application Firewalls and CDNs
Using web application firewalls is a great way to protect larger enterprise-level applications. A firewall can detect and prevent DDoS attacks by monitoring unusual spikes in traffic and blocking them. ModSecurity by Apache is a good plugin to use, since it’s open source and was specifically designed for web applications.
A content distribution network, or CDN, can balance out website traffic by spreading it across different servers located around the globe. If your website is hosted on a server in New York and on another server in Tokyo, for example, you’ve expanded your website’s presence on the internet, making it harder for attackers to launch a DDoS attack against you.
If the job of an attacker is to send a lot of fake traffic your way, then, as a site owner, your job is to detect and stop that unusual activity so you can reduce its impact. Using a CDN is a great way to do that.
Increase Internet Bandwidth and Server Capacity
The main reason your website can crash or go offline after a DDoS attack is if it doesn’t have the capacity to handle the volume of traffic sent by the attacker.
Buying additional bandwidth and enlarging your website’s server capacity are excellent ways to reduce the impact of a DDoS attack. If your website can handle one million users at once, and a DDoS attack only sends 500,000 fake visitors, your site will continue to operate normally.
Buying more bandwidth and increasing your server capacity can also help you scale your business, as your website will be able to serve more customers and users.
Talk to your hosting service provider about upgrading your plan to one that gives you a larger server capacity. Along with the benefits of enhanced protection against DDoS attacks, the increased website capacity might help you grow your business!
Stand Firm Against DDoS Attacks
It’s pretty clear that protecting your website from a DDoS attack can help you save a lot of time, money, and resources. Consistently backing up your website can ensure that you’ll be able to recover it if you do fall prey to an attack.
While taking the steps we’ve discussed can go a long way toward protecting your website, you should regularly monitor your site traffic.
More importantly, don’t lurk around online zones where hackers hang out! To avoid DDoS attacks, ignore any suspicious requests sent to you through your website and be wary of unusual comments made on your blog.
Have you ever had to deal with a DDoS attack?