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
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
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,
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
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
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.