DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks feature amongst the most dreaded kinds of cyber attacks, for any enterprise today. This is especially because, as the name itself suggests, there it causes a total denial of service; it exhausts all resources of an enterprise network, application or service and consequently it becomes impossible to gain access to the network, application or the service.
In general, a DDoS attack is launched simultaneously from multiple hosts and it would suffice to host the resources, the network and the internet services of enterprises of any size. Many prominent organizations today encounter DDoS attacks on a daily basis. Today DDoS attacks are becoming more frequent and they are increasing in size, at the same time becoming more sophisticated. In this context, it becomes really important that enterprises look for DDoS attack prevention services, in fact the best DDoS attack prevention services, so as to ensure maximum protection for their network and data.
The different kinds of DDoS attacks
Though there are different kinds of DDoS attacks, broadly speaking there are three categories into which all the different kinds of DDoS attacks would fit.
The first category is the volumetric attacks, which include those attacks that aim at overwhelming network infrastructure with bandwidth-consuming traffic or by deploying resource-sapping requests. The next category, the TCP state-exhaustion attacks, refer to the attacks that help hackers abuse the stateful nature of the TCP protocol to exhaust resources in servers, load balancers and firewalls. The third category of DDoS attacks, the application layer attacks, are basically the ones targeting any one aspect of an application or service at Layer 7.
Of the above-mentioned three categories, volumetric attacks are the most common ones; at the same time there are DDoS attacks that combine all these three vectors and such attacks are becoming commonplace today.
DDoS attacks getting sophisticated, complex and easy-to-use
Cybercriminals today are getting cleverer and smarter. They tend to package complex, sophisticated DDoS attack tools into easy-to-use downloadable programs, thereby making it easy even for non-techies to carry out DDoS attacks against organizations.
What are the main drivers behind DDoS attacks? Well, there could be many, ranging from ideology or politics to vandalism and extortion. DDoS is increasingly becoming a weapon of choice for hacktivists as well as terrorists who seek to disrupt operations or resort to extortion. Gamers too use DDoS as a means to gain competitive advantage and win online games.
There are clever cybercriminals who use DDoS as part of their diversionary tactics, intending to distract organizations during APT campaigns that are planned and executed in order to steal data.
How to prevent DDoS attacks
The first thing that needs to be done, to prevent DDoS attacks from happening, is to secure internet-facing devices and services. This helps reduce the number of devices that can be recruited by hackers to participate in DDoS attacks.
Since cybercriminals abuse protocols like NTP, DNS, SSDP, Chargen, SNMP and DVMRP to generate DDoS traffic, it’s advisable that services that use any of these ought to be carefully configured and run on hardened, dedicated servers.
Do repeated tests for security issues and vulnerabilities. One good example is doing penetration tests for detecting web application vulnerabilities.
Ensure that your enterprise implements anti-spoofing filters as covered in IETF Best Common Practices documents BCP 38 and BCP 84. This is because hackers who plan DDoS attacks would generate traffic with spoofed source IP addresses.
Though there are no fool-proof techniques that can prevent DDoS attacks completely, you can ensure maximum protection by ensuring proper configuration of all machines and services. This would ensure that attackers don’t harness publicly available services to carry out DDoS attacks.
It’s to be remembered that it’s difficult to predict or avoid DDoS attacks and also that even an attacker with limited resources can bring down networks or websites. Hence, for any organization, it becomes important that the focus is always on maximum level protection for enterprise networks, devices, websites etc.