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When Your Site is Down, Hours Feel like an Eternity

When Your Site is Down, Hours Feel like an Eternity

 

On the morning of October 21 st , many smartphones were quieter than usual. Instead of lighting up with

notifications from sites like Twitter, or streaming music via Spotify, a distributed denial of service attack

(DDoS) took them down throughout the East Coast.

 

How were so many sites hit simultaneously? It’s simple. A single attack on Dyn, one of the largest

internet management businesses in the United States, brought these popular sites (and many more) to a

standstill.

 

The attack lasted from 7:00 a.m. to approximately 9:00 a.m. before easing. Then, the attack resumed

close to midday. This time, the effects were felt throughout the U.S. and parts of Europe. The hackers

kept internet users frustrated until late in the day when Dyn finally announced the issue was resolved.

Dyn operates as a DNS service provider along with being an internet management company. Normally,

they intercept this kind of bad traffic, but the system was simply overwhelmed during that particular

Friday.

 

The Origins of DDoS

A DDoS attack is nothing new. Since the beginning of the internet, it was quickly determined that you

could limit a site’s function by overloading it with traffic. Sometimes these incidents happen accidentally

when a site is ill-prepared for the number of visitors trying to enter at the same time. For example, Best

Buy’s website succumbed to a flood of visitors on Black Friday in 2014.

 

However, DDoS attacks can shut down a website at almost any time. Some attacks are coordinated,

sometimes operating as a virtual protest. Others involve a large number of computers infected with a

virus, such as a Trojan, which is triggered to begin the attack automatically and often unbeknownst to

the owners of said infected computers.

 

The Largest DDoS on Record

This past September, a noted security journalist was targeted. Brian Krebs’ released a report on vDOS, a

group known for creating DDoS attacks in exchange for payment, providing information regarding the

identities of the alleged operators. In response, Krebs’ site was flooded with an estimated 620 gigabits

per second. This attack was nearly twice as heavy as any previous attack known by the site’s host,

Akamai.

 

While Akamai felt they had no choice but to stop operating as the host for the site, the site returned

with the protection of Jigsaw’s Project Shield, a program that routes content through Google’s servers to

help mitigate the effects of an attack.

 

Protecting Your Site from a DDoS

While your site may not have the same target on its back as Krebs’, all networks can be targeted. This

means that having the proper security measures in place is critical. You may choose to implement

specialized on-premises equipment, designed to sit in front of servers and routers, that can help defend

against these attacks, or look to your internet service provider (ISP).

 

However, cloud mitigation providers may be a better solution if your network is supported by multiple

providers. Cloud-based services have the necessary bandwidth to manage attacks based on sheer

volume while also filtering incoming traffic to prevent malicious connection attempts from reaching

your resources.

 

These cloud mitigation specialists also have access to multiple technologies, providing a layered system

of detection and protection beyond the reach of many individual company-operated networks. Often,

these solutions are highly scalable and more cost-effective than integrating an on-premises solution,

providing an excellent option for companies looking for high-quality protection without an equally high

price tag.

 

Since the threat of DDoS attack seems to be growing, it is imperative not to delay. Your network is the

lifeblood of your company; it deserves the best protection available.

Nathan Weatherford

Nathan is in charge of Marketing & Business Development at VocalPoint Consulting. Launching new marketing initiatives, planning for events, meeting with clients and providers is all part of the job.

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