Our lives revolve around technology. We handle business online, take care of bills, go shopping, and hop online to chat with friends on Facebook. The internet has definitely brought a new level of convenience to our lives. It has also spawned a new threat for businesses, financial institutions and governments.
Modern day pirates, or hackers, now sail the seas of the internet looking for vulnerabilities and exploits that can lead to websites being shot offline or data compromised. For the record: hackers don’t necessarily have a pale complexion, acne, and an unhealthy infatuation with video games and computers. Hacking is big business. Distributed denial of service attacks are launched against governments. Unethical businesses use them to target the competition. It’s an ugly business. Groups like LulzSec and Anonymous use ddos attacks as their weapon of choice.
Distributed denial of service attacks have increased over 2012. It’s not just financial institutions facing the threat. Adidas was hit with an attack last year and gaming websites are notorious for being threatened by DDoS. Online retailers are especially vulnerable. The internet offers a level of anonymity that enables any knowledgeable hacker to shield their location. It sucks, but it is the truth. Proxies, Tor… the list goes on. Of course, technology pushes the fold, but the increase in attacks has also increased the sophistication of anti-DDoS systems and security.
- #1 – Religiously update your software. Companies update software for a reason. Bottom line. New updates often contain security patches and help increase performance, so the first thing you should be doing to keep your website safe is making sure you update all of your software regularly. If your company runs managed servers, you won’t have to deal with server software updates, but it’s still important to make sure you are updating any scripts or software you have running on your website.
- Include DDoS disasters in your business continuity plans. As much as we would like to feel that “it won’t happen to us”, the world tends not to work that way. If your website falls under high risk hosting because of your industry you should prepare for the “what ifs” of a DDoS attack. This means planning what your next moves will be if your website is attacked and having the tools in place to recover.
- Know the signs of an attack. If you don’t know what to look for, you’ll probably be caught off guard. Not all disruptions of service immediately point to a ddos attack, but there are some common signs to watch out for. If you are consistently unable to access your website (from multiple devices) and you are experiencing slow network performance, these can be signs of a ddos attack.
- Host with a DDoS mitigation company. If your website or industry is prone to attacks, you’re better off hosting your website with a hosting provider that understands and specializes in mitigating denial of service attacks. This is more cost effective than hiring IT professionals and specialized hardware to cobat the problem yourself. DDoS mitigation companies monitor your network traffic and deploy various techniques to offset the impact of an attack. Your website will be protected and you won’t have to worry about juggling ddos protection and running your business.