With DDoS attacks on the rise, it is crucial for businesses to know what potential threat vectors can put them in harm’s way. The best approach to any threat is, after all, to prepare for the eventuality of an attack. That would reduce its impact on their operations and revenue. That said, here’s what you need to know about DDoS attacks and their prevention.

What is a DDoS Attack?

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a malicious attempt at bringing down a website or an online service. It aims to overwhelm the site with a massive amount of traffic that causes it to become inoperable or unavailable.

DDoS attacks typically use botnets or networks of computers under the hackers’ control that bombard the target with a slew of messages or fake requests for connection.

DDoS attacks are among the most common forms of cyberattacks. And according to a recent report, a DDoS attack victim can lose between US$120,000 and US$2 million per incident.

How does a DDoS Attack Work?

Botnets aid most DDoS attacks because no one device can send enough traffic to take down a site. Cybercriminals exploit unpatched vulnerabilities in hardware or software or use malware to obtain command and control (C&C) of systems they wish to make part of their botnet.

In many cases, however, attackers don’t need to build botnets from scratch. These malicious networks can be bought or rented from underground marketplaces on the Deep Web.

In a DDoS attack, a botnet can send tons of spam to a target server to render it inoperable. Some attackers send numerous requests to overwhelm a victim’s Domain Name System (DNS) server. And because such a server essentially points searchers to the site (the same one hackers are DDoSing), when it can’t handle requests anymore, it crashes. That makes the site inaccessible.

Learn more about the process in this video.

Successful DDoS attacks work against targets in that they disrupt their operations, causing them to lose out on business opportunities and, consequently, revenue.

But while DDoS attacks are indeed damaging, companies and individual website owners can still prevent them. Read on to find out how.

How Can DDoS Attacks be Prevented?

Here are some ways to counter DDoS attacks:

1. Monitor incoming website traffic

Since the bots used in a DDoS attack are legitimate but compromised devices, IT administrators often find it hard to distinguish them from actual site visitors. Then again, site owners and administrators often know how much traffic goes in and out of their networks. Any unexpected spike should thus trigger an investigation. Regular checks on server logs to gauge normal traffic amounts are a must. Setting up alerts that would go off when incoming traffic exceeds the normal levels would also be helpful.

2. Configure network hardware

Sometimes, even basic hardware configurations can help prevent DDoS attacks. For instance, you can configure your firewall to drop incoming block bulk DNS requests arriving at the same time.

3. Secure network infrastructure

Make sure that you have multi-layered security solutions in place. Using threat management systems that can carry out load balancing, content filtering, and spam blocking can help improve your defense against DDoS attacks.

Patch all systems and software at all times. Regular and timely patching prevents cybercriminals from spotting exploitable vulnerabilities in your network.

4. Use DDoS protection

There are several DDoS protection providers out there. Subscribing to their services can be an option. They defend you in two ways. First, they provide you with more bandwidth so your network can handle unexpected traffic spikes. Second, they can help diffuse an attack by redirecting suspicious requests to specially crafted mitigators.