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How to protect your business against DDoS attacks

In the last few years, the surge in cyber attacks and security breaches across both the public and private sector has not only increased but become far more damaging.

Rogue cyber-gangs such as Lizard Squad and DD4BC have been targeting major establishments, bringing down the networks of banks, media and gaming companies with DDoS attacks.

Attacks this year have been on the rise, with Verisign mitigating against 34 per cent more attacks in the first half of 2015 than in the first half of 2014. Out of these attacks, our latest report figures show that for the third consecutive quarter IT Services/Cloud and SaaS remain the most heavily targeted sectors.

One of the most prolific cyber-attack stories in the last quarter was that of DD4BC. The group has been active since September 2014 and continually grew the frequency of its attacks and broadened its geographic targets. Known for holding organisations at ransom for up to 50 bitcoins (£8,000 currently) at a time, the one commonality that allowed DD4BC to be successful is the broad array of company networks vulnerable to DDoS attacks.

A 2014 Survey on DDoS conducted by the SANS Institute found that of 378 IT professionals surveyed, 39 per cent either didn’t have a DDoS mitigation plan or were unaware of one existing for their organisation. As these attacks are becoming increasingly complex, organisations need to take the crucial steps to mitigate these threats and protect their assets:

  1. Use a Cloud-Based Managed DNS Service

Whether it is a primary or backup service, every business can improve its website availability by utilising a highly available authoritative domain name system (DNS) service. The DNS is a critical component of internet infrastructure that essentially controls the ability of customers to get to your website. It translates the domain names used for easy identification of websites into their not-so-easy-to-remember IP addresses.

Consequently, if the authoritative DNS for your domain goes down, your customers and users can’t find your website or Internet service. The site may still be operational, but since no one will be able to get to it – it might as well be down. There are a variety of issues that can cause a website’s DNS to go down, including configuration errors, natural disasters, and of course DDoS attacks. In fact, DNS issues are one of the top reasons today for website downtime. That is why it is important to use a cloud-based managed DNS service, so that your business can rely on dedicated experts with globally distributed networks to help ensure your web presence and critical web services are always available.

Moving your DNS to a reliable, cloud-based service is fairly easy though not all services are created equal, so be sure that the vendor you select has the experience, resources, and infrastructure required to help ensure availability.

  1. Have a DDoS Protection Plan

Ensuring that your business is fully prepared to withstand a DDoS attack against your website and other Internet services is paramount to ensure business continuity in today’s world. Although some sectors are bearing the brunt of attacks more than others, today everyone with an online presence is a potential target.

Due to new plug-and-attack software cropping up in underground markets, DDoS attacks are one of the easiest types for cyber-miscreants to launch. There are many options to protect your business against DDoS attacks and the most common approach is to utilise a cloud-based service, which is the solution most favoured by businesses who find it the most cost-effective and comprehensive.

This approach requires no upfront capital investment or in-house experience and unlike traditional security solutions like firewalls, cloud-based DDoS protection services filter harmful traffic in the cloud before it reaches your network.

  1. Serve Your Website from Multiple Locations

Having a backup is one of the best ways to improve your website’s performance and availability. Scaling up to hosting from additional sites and using cloud providers can help you expand your global reach. For example, you might want to deploy your website at multiple leased data centres, or cloud services, located around the world.

In this scenario, services such as Verisign Managed DNS with Traffic Management enables web traffic to be effectively managed to direct users to the site located closest to them. When a site fails, the system simply and automatically routes users to one of the other available locations. Managing web traffic in this way provides a win-win for both your business and your users, who will experience not only availability but also faster load times.

These days, with connectivity a crucial element for many businesses, especially those who trade online, even an hour of downtime due to an outage or malicious attack can have far-reaching consequences on your business and reputation.

By understanding the threat landscape and developing appropriate mitigation plans, it could make the difference in future-proofing your business for the impending rise in cyber attacks.

Josh Ray, Director of Intelligence, Verisign

Image source: Shutterstock/sibgat