Understanding DDoS Attacks: Detection and Protection

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Understanding DDoS Attacks: Detection and Protection

A DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack is a type of cyber-attack that uses several computers to flood a target system with illegitimate requests, making it inaccessible to legitimate users. The goal of a DDoS attack is to overload and overwhelm the target system and cause it to crash or become slow and unresponsive. These attacks can cause significant financial losses and damage a company’s reputation.

DDoS are becoming increasingly common, with the number of attacks increasing yearly. In February 2020, a DDoS attack was launched against Amazon Web Services, lasting almost three days. It was so severe that it impacted countless other site owners and publishers who rely on AWS.

In another 2018 instance, GitHub endured the largest ever recorded DDoS attack at the time, flooding its servers with 126.9 (Pps) and 1.3 terabytes of data per second (Tbps). Luckily it only took the servers offline for 20 minutes despite its magnitude due to their strong protection measures. Read on to learn more about how DDoS attacks work and what you can do to protect your business from them.


Detecting a DDoS Attack


The ability to detect attacks quickly and effectively is probably one of the most crucial aspects of DDoS protection. Without detection, you can’t take steps to mitigate an attack or prevent it from causing damage. However, at times, it may be challenging to detect a DDoS attack since it may often mimic legitimate traffic.

Therefore, to identify a DDoS attack with certainty, you need analytics tools to help spot signs of DDoS. These signs include:

  • Suspicious spike of requests directed to a single page.
  • Application or server crashes despite a history without compromise.
  • High volume traffic from multiple IP addresses or a single IP address.
  • Traffic from several users exhibiting similar characteristics.
  • Patterns of Traffic spikes at odd hours or traffic patterns not typical for your business.

Remember that even the most dedicated server hosting might still have vulnerabilities to DDoS attacks, despite the varying measures across hosting solutions. Need help securing your entire infrastructure? Download your Security Infrastructure Checklist for SMBs.


Types of DDoS Attacks


DDoS attacks come in three categories depending on their target layer. These are:

Volumetric Attacks

Volumetric attacks are the most common DDoS type, measured in BPS (bits per second) and referred to as volumetric due to the large volume of traffic involved. They aim to overload the network by flooding it with heavy data amounts. The sheer volume of illegitimate requests makes it impossible for the target system to process legitimate requests, effectively shutting down the site or service.

Some common volumetric attacks include ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol), junk flood attacks, and Datagram Protocol (UDP).

Protocol Attacks

Protocol attacks exploit vulnerabilities in the network protocol stack. By targeting the network layers, these attacks can consume a significant number of resources and cause the system to crash.

Common protocol attacks include TCP SYN Floods or TCP Connection Attacks and Smurf DDoS Attacks. These attacks can be challenging to mitigate since they target the network layer.

Application Layer Attacks

Application layer attacks target the application layer of the system. These attacks flood the server with illegitimate requests designed to exhaust the server. Their advance is slower than typical volumetric attacks, ensuring their requests appear legitimate until after they overwhelm the application.


How to Prevent DDoS Attacks


Now that you know the types of DDoS attacks and how to detect them, it is essential to understand how you can prevent these attacks from happening in the first place. There are a few key considerations you can take to protect your business against DDoS attacks, which we have outlined below:

  • Understand your traffic patterns. With the help of server and network monitoring tools, you can establish the typical traffic for your business. Doing so will help you to quickly identify when there are spikes in traffic that may indicate a DDoS attack.
  • Find protective measures. Consider using an Intrusion Protection System (IPS)and Intrusion Detection System (IDS) to identify and block malicious traffic before it reaches your network.
  • Use DDoS Mitigation Tools. Mitigation appliances and platforms come equipped with advanced monitoring, detection technology, and robust infrastructure to deal with large or complex DDoS attacks.

Singularis IT Solutions can help secure your business against DDoS attacks and other cybersecurity threats. Stay ahead of the curve with our data center and managed hosting services, which provide proactive support against the rising cyberattack prevalence. Contact us today to learn more.