How to Address the Increasing Threat of a DDOS attack

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Now, more than ever, businesses need to take information technology security protocols seriously. Unfortunately, we live in an age where cybercrime is rife and large numbers of unscrupulous individuals make it their mission to disrupt business operations and cause chaos.

Since the year 2000, when their first appearance is thought to have been reported, Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks have become more widespread, with dedicated websites now in place to provide a live feed of their frequency.This is because botnets – the mechanism by which they are launched- havebecome more readily available. For example, botnets can now even be hired for as little as $50 per hour, which makes them a very attractive prospect for both hackers and even, disgruntled ex-employees alike.

DDOS attacks are designed to cause maximum disruption by bringing down a specific target through a calculated barrage, and their unpredictable nature makes them a very difficult phenomenon to counteract. The result can be massive communication interruptions, loss of revenue and damage to a business’s reputation.

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It is therefore essential that all businesses implement mitigation methods to stave off DDOS attacks. After all, being prepared is the key and failure to plan is planning to fail. Furthermore, rigorous testing is a must and should be a part of any contingency plans. Therefore, choosing the right technology partner (like NCC group)is crucial and amitigation service should be a fundamental component to an organisation’s security.

The first step in protecting from DDOS attacks is to implement mitigation methods to protect externally facing hardware. This should include not just web servers but also switches and routers – basically any piece of hardware that could potentially fall victim to DDOS attackers. Remove any bottlenecks and eliminate single points of failure.

Next, a business needs to ensure that all its key IT staff are briefed in what to do in the event of a DDOS attack. Network engineers, server teams and service desk managers all need to know their individual roles should a DDOS attack occur. This will minimise the ultimate downtime and disruption and ensure a smooth response to the attack. Ideally, several individuals need to be briefed to allow for sickness and holiday leave.

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Knowing their normal operating loads is crucial for a business to effectively monitor against DDOS attacks. For example, how can a business be sure it is being attacked if it doesn’t know what its normal load values are? This is why monitoring networks and servers during normal operation is crucial and helps to identify any DDOS attacks should they occur.

Finally, rigorous testing of a business’s defences is vital. How can an organisation be confident in its security measures if it hasn’t tested them in a controlled manner? Emulating DDOS attacks from a variety of angles to mimic real-world scenarios is the key. Potential security holes can be identified and steps taken to fix them.

One of the biggest oversights that businesses make is implementing a range of mitigation methods but not testing their effectiveness. Unfortunately, it’s too late to test after an attack has occurred, so businesses who neglect this element are setting themselves up to fail. It is no longer just typically government organisations that are the targets of DDOS attacks anymore, with financial institutions such as banks now falling victim.


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Nick Barnett

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