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What are DDoS attacks and how do they affect your business?

Web Hosting Blog

DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service, and it’s a type of cyber attack which is executed solely for the purpose of slowing or crippling a machine or network resource. This is done by flooding the target with superfluous requests, the sheer number of which then prevents the host from processing legitimate requests in it’s usual manner, or indeed, at all. The incoming traffic will usually come from multiple sources, making it hard to block as you cannot simply block a single source.      

DDoS attacks are popular with cybercriminals as they’re relatively cheap and easy to carry out. They can be executed quickly, with no prior warning, and are especially dangerous to smaller sites and businesses as these tend to be more vulnerable. A popular tactic of attackers is to carry out an attack, and then demand payment from the victim in order to make the attack stop. Indeed, the prospect of downtime is so unattractive to most companies that attackers often find that the threat of an attack is enough to make them pay up.               

The attacks are carried out using a network of bots, which are known as botnets. Any computer can be used as a bot, and many are. This is achieved by an unsuspecting user accidentally downloading malware which then allows for their machine to be used maliciously. Usually this takes place without the owner having any idea of what is happening in the background! The infected bot is then instructed to carry out a series of repetitive tasks. With a whole army of these bots working together, they can be extremely effective in crippling a company system.      

A DDoS attack may be cheap for the attacker, but it can be devastatingly costly for the victim, both through reputation and monetary cost. And, what’s more, it’s a fact that two thirds of companies who have experienced one DDoS attack will go on to be hit repeatedly. Repeated attacks are bound to cause frustrations for you and your customers and could result in complaints, compensation claims or even loss of business for yourself. Any business is at risk of suffering a DDoS attack and so it’s important to have a plan in place for if the worst happens. Make sure your plan includes the different roles everyone will take, from liaising with your hosting provider to communicating effectively with your customers throughout the issue.          

Your hosting provider will provide services to help protect you against DDoS attacks. Some of these may be included in a management package and others may be measures that you will pay an additional cost for. The easiest way to help protect yourself is to make sure your server is patched and all security updates are up to date. Not only will this protect you against DDoS attachs but it will also help you to be protected against any server vulnerabilities. You could also opt for a load balanced solution. Whilst this wouldn’t stop an attack occurring, it would mean that you didn’t experience downtime as a result because the other server in your setup would take over the hjosting of your site and services, meaning your site stays live as you work to remedy the effects of the attack. You may also wish to consider advanced DDoS mitigation services which work by disrupting the malicious traffic but still letting any legitimate traffic through.             

Ultimately preventing a DDoS attack is much easier and likely cheaper than dealing with one that has caught you off guard so it’s worth investing in these extra precautions to ensure you don’t fall foul of this particular type of attack. Ensure you’re adopting best practices in terms of your server security and doing what’s right for your business, it’s website and infrastructure. Make sure you have a clear plan to follow if the worst does happen.

Speak to an adviser at CWCS managed hosting today for more information on how we can help you to avoid DDoS attacks.