5 Best Practices for Mitigating DDoS Attacks

    For web-based businesses, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are one of the most dangerous issues they’ll face. DDoS attacks make a website unusable by flooding it with traffic and overwhelming the servers. For example, attackers might use a bot to submit hundreds of contact request forms on a website in rapid succession, overwhelming the servers and causing them to shut down.

    Attackers use DDoS attacks as threats to extort businesses, similar to ransomware. The average DDoS attack costs enterprise businesses around $2 million and costs small and medium-sized businesses around $120,000. So, how do you mitigate the damage from DDoS attacks? This best practices guide can help you protect your web-based assets.

    Table of contents

    1. Use cloud-based hosting from major providers

    Cloud-based hosting takes advantage of a redundant server environment, meaning your website files are stored on more than one server. If one of those servers goes down due to a DDoS attack or other issues, the other can kick in and ensure you don’t experience any downtime.

    For similar reasons, cloud-based hosting also offers better uptime and availability for your website. Your site gets to use the resources from multiple servers, so it can handle more traffic. This also protects you from technical issues that arise due to unexpected traffic spikes, like you’d experience in a DDoS attack.

    Most hosting providers use major cloud vendors like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure to ensure the quality of the services they provide. When deciding on a hosting provider for your web-based business, you should find out whether they host websites through major providers or using their own servers.

    2. Use firewalls and routers to reject suspicious traffic

    DDoS attacks are denoted by a flood of incoming traffic, which the right security tools can reject to keep servers online. Your firewalls and routers should be able to recognize a suspicious uptick in traffic, like those outside of when traffic normally spikes, and reject any traffic that might be spam.

    Next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) monitor the network edge to detect behavior that might be consistent with DDoS attacks and then block those threats. NGFWs help prevent DDoS attacks, rather than just mitigating them, and can improve uptime across your network.

    Also read: Top Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) Vendors

    3. Incorporate AI into your cybersecurity tools

    Unfortunately, DDoS attacks don’t always happen while your security team is in the office. By choosing cybersecurity tools with artificial intelligence (AI), your security software can proactively monitor your network and keep threats under control whether your IT admins are available or not.

    With machine learning capabilities, AI can identify normal traffic patterns and when your website should expect spikes. Then, when unexpected upticks occur, the AI can analyze the traffic and block access from suspicious origins.

    Also read: Automation Could Help Organizations Manage Risk: Cybersecurity Research

    4. Partition critical online services away from high-value targets

    Most web hosting includes both your business email and your website. To keep your business running as smoothly as possible, you should make sure your email services are kept separate from your web hosting. This way, if your site does go down, you’ll still be able to address customer concerns via email.

    Your hosting service should separate email and web hosting onto different servers by default, but you should double-check with them to make sure. If they don’t do it by default, they should have the option to separate them.

    5. Create a static version of your website

    Preparing a static version of your website can help mitigate DDoS attacks because you’ll have somewhere to send the traffic if your website does go down. Static versions of your site generally take less processing power and bandwidth to reduce some of the load on your servers. Not only do static sites help mitigate DDoS attacks, but they can also improve the loading speed for certain pages on your site.

    Static sites are generally created from simple HTML and CSS coding with some JavaScript thrown in. How you configure your own static site will depend on your web hosting platform. WordPress, for example, requires a special plugin. Your web developer should be able to help you set up your static site.

    Protecting your business from DDoS attacks

    Protecting your business from DDoS attacks is key for keeping your website up and running for your customers. Downtime resulting from DDoS attacks can cost businesses thousands of dollars or more in lost revenue and maintenance costs. Using these best practices, you can mitigate DDoS attacks and keep your website running smoothly.

    Read next: Why Security Needs to Automate, Too

    Jenn Fulmer
    Jenn Fulmer
    Jenn Fulmer is a writer for TechnologyAdvice, IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, and eSecurity Planet currently based in Lexington, KY. Using detailed, research-based content, she aims to help businesses find the technology they need to maximize their success and protect their data.
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