Since the arrival of the new millennium, cybercriminals have used distributed denial of service attacks to shut down some of the world’s biggest websites. You may have heard the acronym DDoS before, but what is a DDoS attack? And how can one impact your website?

In a DDoS attack, cybercriminals use hacked networks to flood internet servers with traffic, sending more requests than the server can handle. This includes overwhelming a website with “fake” requests in an attempt to make the site unavailable. DDoS attacks are executed when multiple computers on different networks — called a “botnet” — send large amounts of requests to your website at once. In a particularly memorable instance, the Mirai botnet used a large number of hacked internet of things devices to overwhelm Dyn, a domain name system for popular sites such as Amazon, Twitter, Netflix, Etsy, and Spotify.

Here is what you need to know in terms of protecting yourself from these vicious attacks:

1. Strengthen Your Bandwidth

While this isn’t necessarily a way to protect your website from a DDoS, it can help it withstand one without going down. The more bandwidth you have, the more distributed denial of service attacks your server can handle without giving out. Think about it – you never see the big websites like Google, Amazon, and Facebook go down because of a DDoS attack.

2. DDoS Mitigation

The key to preventing a DDoS attack is detecting it. Once you detect it, you can block the IP addresses commencing the attack from accessing your website and causing damage. DDoS mitigation is one of the most popular methods of detecting a distributed denial of service attack and redirecting it from your main server.

3. Content Delivery Networks

Using a CDN is another popular way people protect their websites from a distributed denial of service. Simply put, using a CDN means that your website is hosted on multiple IP addresses; so even if a DDoS attack succeeds on one of them, you still have a few backups that can keep your website running until you figure out what is going on.

4. Hire a DDoS Specialist

When all else fails, hiring someone whose job is to offer Internet security to website owners is probably your best bet. There are services out there like Akamai, Incapsula, and Neustar that can help, and while it’s an additional investment you get the expertise and technology that you could never get on your own.

 

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