DDoS Attacks

DDoS Attacks – What Do They Mean For Businesses?

Cyber-crime is an ongoing problem for businesses of all sizes, and one significant threat in the digital landscape is an attack called a DDoS.
DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and is an attack that can disrupt online services, leading to financial losses, tarnished reputation and potential legal repercussions.
DDoS attacks are rarer than phishing, and usually target organisations like banks, financial institutions and government agencies, but can happen to any business! Understanding what DDoS attacks are and implementing effective mitigation strategies is crucial for safeguarding your business's online presence.

What is a DDoS attack?

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack occurs when a targeted system or network is unexpectedly flooded with an overwhelming volume of traffic.
Attackers take control of a collection of computers and internet devices, infect them with malware and control them remotely to make an attack on a company’s internet system. Each individual device utilised to make an attack is called a bot or a zombie, and collectively they are known as a botnet.
Each bot sends traffic to the target at the same time, and this flood of traffic creates a traffic jam that exhausts and overwhelms the target’s server, making it unable to serve legitimate users and operate as normal – often crashing completely.
The goal of a DDoS attack is to disrupt the availability of online services, causing inconvenience or financial harm to the target. Sometimes, the attack is made as a distraction, to draw attention away from other criminal activity, like data theft. On other occasions, a threat of a DDoS is used to extort money from a company – payable by a hard-to-trace route, like cryptocurrency.

Types of DDoS attacks

  • Volumetric attacks

These attacks aim to overwhelm the target's bandwidth by flooding it with a massive volume of traffic. Common techniques include UDP floods and ICMP floods.
  • Protocol attacks

Protocol attacks exploit vulnerabilities in network protocols to consume server resources or disrupt communication between systems. Examples include SYN floods and Ping of Death attacks.
  • Application layer attacks

These attacks target the application layer of the OSI model, aiming to exhaust server resources or disrupt specific services. Examples include HTTP floods and Slowloris attacks.

How to spot a DDoS attack – the telltale signs:

  • Unusually slow network performance, or crash
  • Unexplained spikes in traffic, not connected to a product launch etc.
  • Inability to access pages or services of website
  • Unusual patterns in server logs
  • Dramatic increase in number of spam emails
  • Reports from customers about difficulty accessing website

Mitigation strategies

How can a business prevent a DDoS and mitigate its effects? There are several steps it can take:
  • Implement DDoS protection services

Engage with a reputable DDoS protection service provider. These services employ sophisticated techniques to detect and mitigate DDoS attacks in real-time, ensuring minimal disruption to your online services.
  • Scalable infrastructure

Design your network infrastructure to be scalable and resilient. Distribute your resources across multiple servers and data centres to handle sudden spikes in traffic during DDoS attacks.
  • Traffic filtering

Deploy traffic filtering mechanisms such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) to identify and block malicious traffic before it reaches your network.
  • Anomaly detection

Utilise anomaly detection systems to monitor network traffic patterns and identify deviations from normal behaviour. This proactive approach enables early detection of potential DDoS attacks, allowing you to take preventive measures.
  • Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)

Utilise CDNs to distribute content across geographically dispersed servers. CDNs can absorb and mitigate DDoS attacks by distributing traffic across their network infrastructure and caching content closer to end-users.
  • Incident response plan

Develop and regularly test an incident response plan specifically tailored to DDoS attacks. Clearly define roles and responsibilities, establish communication protocols and outline steps for mitigating and recovering from DDoS incidents.
  • Educate staff and users

Educate your employees and users about DDoS attacks, their potential impact, and best practices for responding to suspicious activity. Encourage the adoption of strong security measures, such as using complex passwords and enabling two-factor authentication.
  • Report extortion

If an attempt to extort money from your business is made over the threat of a DDoS attack, do not pay any ransoms, keep evidence of threatening emails and report to the police.

Insuring against DDoS attacks

DDoS attacks continue to pose a serious threat to businesses worldwide. By understanding the nature of DDoS attacks and implementing comprehensive mitigation strategies, businesses can effectively safeguard their online infrastructure and ensure all of their services remain interrupted to legitimate users.
Proactive measures, combined with robust incident response plans, are essential in mitigating the impact of DDoS attacks and maintaining business continuity in the face of cyber threats. However, a business also needs insurance protection from this kind of malicious cyber-attack. Working with experienced insurance brokers or consultants who specialise in cyber insurance can help you navigate the complexities of selecting the right coverage based on your business's risk profile and budgetary constraints.
Cyber liability insurance is a specialised form of insurance that covers losses and damages resulting from cyber-attacks, including DDoS attacks. These policies typically provide coverage for various aspects of cyber incidents, such as data breaches, business interruption, extortion and legal expenses.
Some cyber insurance providers offer risk assessment and mitigation services as part of their coverage offerings. These services may include vulnerability assessments, security audits and assistance with implementing cybersecurity best practices.

Read more blogs from Ascend:

Gone phishing - How to avoid this common cyber scam
The importance of a cyber security policy

Talk to the team at Ascend today, experts on all aspects of cyber-crime and how to efficiently insure against attacks, on 01245 449060.

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