A Sophisticated Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attack is a cyberattack in which the perpetrator seeks to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users by temporarily or indefinitely disrupting the services of a host connected to a network.
Sophisticated DDoS attacks are highly targeted.
On Sunday, cybercriminals launched a DDoS attack and took down the website of the British Royal family. The site was not available for over an hour. The culprit for this attack was Killnet, a pro-Russian hacking group.
Behind such disruptions are mostly economic, personal, or strictly financial motivations. High-profile attacks remind us that even organizations that do have proper protection in place are vulnerable to damaging hacking exploits.
In 2023, the number of DDoS attacks increased. The first quarter of 2023 counted 7.9 million attacks — which was a 68% increase compared to the previous year.
DDoS exploits may not be as common as malware or phishing attacks, but they are damaging the most for organizations that aren’t prepared for them at all.
Here, I share what to look for in DDoS protection services.
Covering All Layers of the Organization
For comprehensive cybersecurity, businesses need to cover all layers of the organization.
The website layer prevents DDoS exploits that target either websites or applications. It tracks traffic to uncover malicious patterns, prevents SQL injections, and regulates traffic spikes.
Network layer DDoS protection focuses on monitoring suspicious traffic within the infrastructure. It removes unwanted packets and ensures that only legitimate traffic passes through.
The individual IP protection layer keeps IP addresses safe by blocking traffic coming from specific locations. IPs that are more likely to be targeted by DDoS attacks get special attention.
DDoS threats are ever-evolving. This means that threat actors target layers that they haven’t previously. For instance, application-layer DDoS attacks have increased over the last few years.
Currently, a major concern poses multi-vector DDoS attacks which target more than one layer at the same time. With this, this attack inflicts more damage to the infrastructure and is more challenging to mitigate and recover from.
Increased Visibility of the Attack Surface
As a cybersecurity professional, you’ve heard time and time again that “you can’t protect what you can’t see”. Continuous monitoring of the entire infrastructure and analysis of the data that is being generated from the security tools provide teams with greater visibility.
DDoS protection services should include a monitoring tool that inspects traffic non-stop and detects anomalies. Today, such solutions also provide insights in a single dashboard and rely on AI to do so 24/7 — meaning teams get key insights at all times in a single interface.
They integrate with SIEM to take all the data into consideration and provide teams with alerts that indicate high risks within the company.
As a result, even if cybercriminals find new blind spots or zero-day flaws within the organization, the security tool alerts security experts that they need to mitigate the threat that wasn’t blocked automatically.
Visibility also affects how long applications or networks will be disrupted after surges of malicious traffic.
Prevention of Long System Downtimes
Minutes, hours, or days that a network or a website is not available to employees or users translates to revenue losses. To prevent long downtime, DDoS protection services must provide teams with:
- Accurate alerts that warn the teams of attacks
- Updated analytics about the traffic and security posture in real time
Having the right data is integral.
Every layer that a company has needs to be continually inspected and accounted for at all times.
Such thorough and constant monitoring makes a difference between the teams that react on time and prioritize tasks that directly strengthen security and those that react late and cause long downtimes for a company.
Having an Incident Response Plan Ready
Once a DDoS attack does happen, every second counts. The priority is to minimize the damage and stop the attack, but also for businesses to continue operating without disruptions.
Besides having DDoS protection services, it’s important to draft an incident response plan for DDoS.
Businesses that have an incident response plan:
- Assign clear roles to IT staff
- Describe steps security needs to take if they get an alert
- Meet industry compliance
- Continually learn and improve following the attack
If you have a solution that is built to protect your organization from DDoS attacks, it will alert you of the possible attack right away. Reliable security tools block most DDoS attempts at the edge, but your IT still needs to be notified of more sophisticated DDoS attempts.
When you get an alert, it’s necessary to confirm that you’re really suffering an attack — you might have increased traffic for other reasons.
Once you establish it, every person has a role and exact instructions they need to follow to contain the attack.
After the attack, it’s necessary to reflect, patch up vulnerabilities that made DDoS possible, and update the security as well as the response plan.
Meeting Compliance Mandates
Compliance is usually discussed in terms of privacy and sensitive data protection. However, most of the frameworks also provide companies with policies that they need to follow to protect data from common cyberattacks.
For example, GDPR requires you to follow the best practices to prevent DDoS attacks from affecting the infrastructure of a business.
Use it when drafting your incident response plan.
DDoS Protection Services Are Essential
DDoS exploits are more damaging than they used to be.
The number of attacks that threaten organizations has increased.
Many DDoS threats have evolved and gotten more sophisticated. Traditional tools can’t mitigate advanced DDoS attempts automatically.
Therefore, the DDoS protection services that you rely on need to be capable of increasing the visibility of the attack surface, continually monitoring the traffic, and covering all the layers an organization has.
DDoS attempts that include well-known botnets will be blocked automatically. For advanced attacks, DDoS protection must provide accurate and relevant alerts and analytics that security teams can rely on.
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