Organizations across industries rely heavily on the uninterrupted operation of their digital infrastructure. Denial-of-service (DoS) and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks pose a significant threat to this stability, potentially causing service outages, financial losses, and reputational damage. Today, we’ll look at these threats and examine what can protect your network from DoS attacks.

Understanding the DoS/DDoS Landscape

DoS Attacks and Their Methods

In simple terms, DoS attackers try to overwhelm a system with a flood of requests – like opening millions of web pages simultaneously. This overload consumes resources and cripples the system’s ability to respond to legitimate users.

DoS attackers employ various tactics, such as:

  • Flooding Attacks: Bombarding your network with a massive influx of data packets, overwhelming your bandwidth and causing a system crash.
  • Application-Layer Attacks: Targeting specific vulnerabilities in applications or websites, causing them to malfunction or become unresponsive.
  • Ping of Death: Sending malformed data packets that exploit system weaknesses, leading to crashes and instability.

These attacks can have severe consequences. Imagine a hospital’s network being crippled during a medical emergency or an online banking platform crashing during peak hours, causing financial losses and frustration.

The Amplified Threat of DDoS Attacks

DoS attacks are just one member of a larger family of attacks. A more advanced version of these attacks, the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, takes things further. Here, attackers leverage a network of compromised devices, often called a “botnet,” to launch a massive, coordinated assault. 

Botnets can take advantage of various hardware vulnerabilities, like hijacked computers or IoT devices. Each compromised device bombards the target system with traffic, creating a massive wave that overwhelms defenses.

The widespread nature of botnets makes DDoS attacks significantly more challenging to mitigate. Traditional security measures like firewalls might struggle to distinguish between legitimate and malicious traffic originating from numerous sources.

A notable example of the impact and scale of DDoS attacks is the record-breaking assault on Amazon Web Services (AWS) in February 2020. This attack, which peaked at 2.3 terabits per second (Tbps), is a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities even major platforms face.

Key Takeaways:

  • Preparedness is Crucial: AWS’s rapid recovery showcased the importance of having automated and robust DDoS mitigation measures.
  • Addressing Vulnerabilities: Regularly auditing and configuring servers can significantly reduce the risk of such vulnerabilities being exploited.

Essential Safeguards for a Fortified Defense

Protecting your network from DoS attacks often means managing the traffic to your network. Network traffic filtering utilizes a set of rules and algorithms to analyze incoming and outgoing data packets. This process aims to identify and block suspicious or malicious traffic patterns that could potentially compromise system security or disrupt normal network operations.

Network filtering typically involves creating pre-established rules and flagging suspicious activity based on factors like unusual source addresses, port usage outside the norm, and sudden surges in data packet size or volume — all telltale signs of a potential DoS attack. Beyond pre-defined rules, sophisticated systems employ machine learning algorithms. These algorithms continuously learn and adapt, recognizing emerging attack patterns by analyzing historical network traffic data.

Whether powered by AI tools or undertaken manually, traffic filtering provides two major benefits to network security and stability.

  1. Proactive Defense: Suspicious traffic gets identified and blocked before it can overwhelm your system, preventing service disruptions caused by DoS attacks.
  2. Improved Network Performance: By filtering out unnecessary traffic, the strain on your network infrastructure is reduced, leading to smoother operation and better overall performance.

Traffic filtering is a foundational security measure, offering protection against various cyber threats, not just DoS attacks. Combining traffic filtering with a multi-layered approach can significantly strengthen your network’s defenses and minimize the risk of DoS attacks disrupting your operations.

DDoS Mitigation Strategies

While the above measures provide a strong foundation, additional layers of protection are crucial for mitigating DDoS attacks.

  • Rate Limiting: Set thresholds on the number of requests a user or IP address can send within a specific timeframe. Rate limiting helps prevent a single source from overwhelming your system. 
  • DDoS Attack Scrubbing Services: These services act as traffic filters on a larger scale. They can divert and analyze suspicious traffic, filtering out malicious requests before they reach your network. 
  • External Cloud Security Solutions: Cloud storage providers often offer DDoS mitigation solutions that leverage their extensive infrastructure and resources to absorb and deflect large-scale attacks. 

Holistic Network and Data Protection

Conventional measures, like solid access controls and user authentication protocols, are essential no matter what kind of threats you’re hoping to manage. A robust system ensures that only authorized users can access your network and resources. Likewise, regularly patching vulnerabilities in software and firmware addresses potential weaknesses that attackers could exploit.

While many cybersecurity systems don’t specifically mitigate DoS/DDoS attacks, having the right measures in place strengthens your overall security posture. This can include a number of strategies, all of which can play a role in a defense-in-depth framework

Data-Level Security

While traffic filtering, rate limiting, and conventional defense methods all form a strong foundation for network defense, a data-centric security approach adds another powerful layer of protection. Self-protecting data technology transcends traditional perimeter-based security by enabling data to monitor its integrity and continuously detect suspicious behavior. This proactive approach grants data the ability to take self-protective actions in the event of an attack. 

Securing Your System

The ever-evolving threat landscape necessitates constant vigilance. Don’t wait for an attack to happen. As a leader in self-protecting data, Sertainty leverages proprietary processes to ensure that even if systems are compromised or accessed from the inside, all data stored in them remains secure. 

At Sertainty, we know that the ability to maintain secure files is the most valuable asset to your organization’s continued success. Our industry-leading Data Privacy Platform has pioneered what it means for data to be intelligent and actionable, helping companies move forward with a proven and sustainable approach to their cybersecurity needs. 

Data-centric security offers a unique defense layer that complements the above strategies. Our solutions empower data to protect itself actively, adding another line of defense against unauthorized access and malicious activities. Empowering data to defend itself creates an additional hurdle for attackers attempting to exploit vulnerabilities or gain unauthorized access. 

In an era where cyber threats continue to morph and infiltrate, Sertainty data-level security technology shines as a sentinel of data integrity. As we look to the future of cyber defense, Sertainty is committed to providing self-protecting data solutions that evolve and grow to defend sensitive data. Cyber threats may continue to advance, and security perimeter breaches may be inevitable, but with Sertainty, privacy loss doesn’t have to be.