What starts out as a day like any other for your business can quickly turn into a nightmare when you notice an influx of traffic putting strain on your network. At first glance, you may think that you’re in for a record-breaking day of profits, with more visitors than you’ve ever had before. But then the traffic keeps coming. Struggling to keep up with the influx of visitors, your network buckles, slowing down to a near crawl before the system becomes completely unresponsive as it drowns in a never-ending tide of access requests.
The unpleasant truth settles in as your servers finally crash under the strain: you’ve been targeted by a DDoS attack.
A distributed detail of service (DDoS) attack is a special form of cyberattack that aims to crash a server or disrupt network services by overwhelming it with access requests. Unlike cyberattacks that utilize special forms of malware to gain access to a system, DDoS attacks turn the very architecture of the internet against itself, flooding servers with more traffic than they can handle. These attacks are made possible by the creation of botnets, virtual armies of computers that are infected with malware and directed to target a specific system.
Cybersecurity experts measure the strength of a DDoS attack by the bits of traffic they deliver each second. A “small” attack might measure a few megabits per second (Mbps) while more severe attacks could be measured in gigabytes (Gbps) or even terabytes (Tbps). Research by Cisco found that when a DDoS attack is underway, it can make up a staggering 18% of a country’s total internet traffic.
Easy to organize and direct, both volumetric and multi-vector DDoS attacks have become a significant threat to companies around the world in recent years. The total number of reported incidents rose from 6.8 million in 2016 to 7.5 million in 2017, with 60% of organizations experiencing one to ten attacks during that period. These attacks are also increasing in severity. Cisco estimates that the number of DDoS attacks exceeding 1 Gbps will increase to 3.1 million by 2021 (up from 1.3 in 2016), which will certainly put a great deal of strain on IT security.
The most frightening aspect of DDoS attacks is their ability to come from any direction at any moment, which makes preventing them quite challenging. Since they have weaponized a standard function of internet architecture, they are difficult to detect and prevent. Small to medium sized businesses are particularly vulnerable as they often lack the connectivity redundancies to cut attacks off at the source when they occur. But even large technology businesses have been brought low by DDoS attack consequences. Serious server outages affecting Sony’s Playstation Network and Valve Software’s Steam services in 2013 and 2014, for instance, were traced back to a DDoS attack orchestrated by a 23 year-old hacker in Utah.
Since DDoS attacks usually result in servers grinding to a standstill or crashing altogether, their costs are best understood in terms of downtime. For companies that deliver online services, such as cloud or streaming content providers, every moment of server downtime has a direct financial impact. But even for businesses that don’t deliver direct services, downtime can still significantly diminish employee productivity, making it difficult or impossible to deliver other services and products that do generate revenue. Server downtime can also cause companies to miss out on important opportunities and inflict serious damage to their brand reputation. If a customer’s only interaction with a company comes when it’s experiencing network problems due to downtime, they’re unlikely to come back when everything is back up and running. These risks make it clear that companies should adopt extensive cybersecurity measures as a way of preventing DDoS attacks.
Unfortunately, many organizations can be severely damaged by DDoS attack consequences even when the attack isn’t directed against them. If a cloud provider is targeted by a DDoS attack, everyone using that platform might as well be suffering the attack as well. The infamous 2016 attack on Dyn, a DNS registrar, caused many companies using its services, among them Twitter, Netflix, and CNN, to experience outages. In February of 2018, the developer platform GitHub was hit by a record-breaking 1.35 Tbps attack that caused roughly ten minutes of sporadic outages, disrupting services for any business that utilized the platform.
For many companies, data centers offer the best safeguard for preventing DDoS attacks. With blended connectivity options that offer substantial redundancy, data centers can cut off brute force volumetric attacks and reroute services to avoid the diversionary tactics associated with multi-vector attacks. They also offer substantial cybersecurity measures in the form of firewalls and monitoring software that tracks traffic in real time and uses predictive analytics to identify anomalies that could be associated with potential cyberattacks like DDoS intrusions.
Remote hands services also allow data centers to respond quickly to attacks and service outages, allowing them to maintain high levels of uptime and IT security. Combined with cutting edge business intelligence platforms that provide unparalleled insight and transparency into the data center environment, businesses of all sizes can rest easier knowing they’re working with a partner committed to cybersecurity measures.
The threat of DDoS attack consequences will continue to grow in the coming years as hackers evolve their strategies to overcome IT security measures, leaving organizations fighting to protect themselves against the threat of unexpected downtime. Data centers possess the expertise and the infrastructure needed to keep pace with the latest generation of cyberattacks and remain the best line of defense for preventing DDoS attacks.
As the Marketing Manager for vXchnge, Kaylie handles the coordination and logistics of tradeshows and events. She is responsible for social media marketing and brand promotion through various outlets. She enjoys developing new ways and events to capture the attention of the vXchnge audience.