With every step that our world takes into the digital age, the risk of cyber attack becomes a more and more daunting threat. Of the many types of cyber attacks, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is receiving increased attention in recent years—and with good reason. This type of cyber attack is relatively easy for bad actors to initiate, and it can cause immediate, severe, and long-lasting damage to the victimized network
Simply put, a DDoS attack is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. When a DDoS attack occurs, recovery can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, and in some cases, systems are never fully restored to their original state.
Why You Should Be Concerned
DDoS attacks are of particular concern to cybersecurity professionals because they are relatively easy to implement. With the help of the DDoS-for-hire service market, botnets can be purchased inexpensively on the black market for DDoS use, making these types attacks relatively easy to execute. For example, a week-long attack that can shut down a small organization’s online operations can be bought through the online black market for as little as $150.
Additionally, it isn’t even hard to learn these tactics on your own. District Administration reported that two teenagers learned how to launch a DDoS attack from an online gaming site, and shut down their school district’s network for an entire month because of it. This raises concerns for how widespread these types of attacks can eventually become.
Potential outcomes from DDoS attacks include:
- Interruption of operational activities
- Financial impacts due to lost data, productivity, and revenue
- Reputation damage and decreased ability for funding
- Additional fraud activity – Many cyber criminals use DDoS simply as a smokescreen so that they can obtain access to the information they’re really trying to get their hands on.
DDoS attackers do not discriminate when it comes to the types of businesses they go after, meaning your business is not immune to this type of activity. Industries that are receiving increasing attention with DDoS attacks include:
As the industry continues to move to the digital age, healthcare officials need to make sure their networks are reliable and protected from attempts that will shut down access to critical needs.
For the hospitality industry, keeping your website up and active is paramount to keeping up with the fierce competition within the industry.
Not only does the federal government need to be wary of DDoS attacks by disgruntled constituents, but they also need to worry about DDoS attack from foreign governments.
A DDoS attack on a local government could lead to the shutdown of the state/city that could impact local communities.
In many cases, testing and administrative operations are now reliant on website access, which can be significantly delayed or interrupted due to these attacks.
How to Protect Your Business from DDoS Attacks
DDoS attackers can attack businesses at any time. No matter what industry you’re in, keep the following three recommendations in mind to protect your business from DDoS attacks.
1. Determine Your Security Needs and Create a Defense Strategy
To ensure your business is protected from DDoS attacks, you must develop an IT security policy. It’s important that your business creates a comprehensive solution that can detect any suspicious activity. Having a step-by-step plan of how to prevent and mitigate these attacks can help to keep your systems safe.
Once your strategy is developed, be sure to share it with all company personnel so that they are also taking the appropriate steps to ensure your network remains secure.
2. Keep Your Security Safeguards Up-To-Date
It’s important that all software, hardware, and other security safeguards are up-to-date to best defend your system from DDoS attack, as well as other cyber attacks.
While keeping your system current can act as the first line of defense, you need to be wary of the increasing use of personal devices on your premises, whether they be employee laptops or guest cell phones, that can interfere with your security. Implement BYOD (bring your own device) guidelines that can help mitigate any risks brought on by external devices.
Strict password policies are also paramount in keeping your systems secure. Consider the following when developing all business-related passwords:
- Use a unique password for each account
- Use a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols
- Don’t include personal information or common words
- Regularly change passwords
3. Bring in Network Security Specialists
Focusing on your business’ network security is a full-time job that many organizations don’t have the resources or budget to employ. As an alternative, business’ are outsourcing this responsibility to external network security specialists who have extensive knowledge and experience with cyber security, and can give network security the time and attention it needs.
What to Do If a DDoS Attack Happens to Your Business
Defending your business from DDoS attacks doesn’t stop with prevention and mitigation. It’s important that your business includes an incident response plan as part of its defense strategy so that you are prepared if a DDoS attack does occur. Having a strategy in place will help you rebound faster from an attack than you would have otherwise.
Work with your internet service provider (ISP) to see if they offer DDoS protection services. If an attack does occur, let them know immediately as they may be able to reroute traffic from the site before substantial damage is done. Having a disaster recovery site in place prior to attack can also speed up the recovery process and ensure you have access to the information you need while your site is being fixed.
While DDoS attacks are on the rise, there are certain steps your business can take to mitigate the risks of these attacks. Remember, nobody is immune to cyber attacks. It’s better to assume you’re a target and prepare accordingly than to be caught unaware by a damaging cyber attack.
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