Cybersecurity threats evolve constantly, and it’s difficult for any organization to stay ahead of emerging risks. A company’s best defense against security breaches is to understand the tactics that hackers use, and then plan accordingly.

In this post we’ll examine one of the common kinds of cyber attacks — a DDoS attack — and discuss how best to protect your network infrastructure.

What Is a DDoS Attack?

DDoS stands for distributed denial of service attacks. They are different from standard denial-of-service (DoS) attacks due to the volume of devices that are used. A DoS attack will use one device as a point of entry; DDoS attacks use a swarm of devices to overwhelm your system.

As you can imagine, the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) has contributed to the rise in DDoS attacks in recent years. IoT devices are those that can connect to the internet, and poor security practices and weak passwords can leave such devices vulnerable to hackers.

Cyberthieves create a “botnet,” or a large network of hacked devices, that they then use to create their attack traffic. Criminals might build their network of devices for months or even years before they strike the targeted server, operating without your knowledge the entire time.

DDoS attacks are not considered data breaches in and of themselves. Rather, they are employed as a distraction while other operations are working to infiltrate your data centers or to recover more information for further breaches.

Common Types of DDoS Attacks

There are many different kinds of DDoS attacks, although they can be grouped into three large categories based on what part of your network is affected. The open systems interconnection (OSI) model of networks divides your network into layers, and DDoS attacks are categorized based on what layer is targeted.

Volume-Based Attacks

Volume-based or Volumetric DDoS attacks are designed to overwhelm your system’s bandwidth, without concern for individual layers. This is done by using many devices in many locations, which then prevent your site from sustaining your usual traffic.

Protocol Attacks

These attacks target the network layer and transport layer of your OSI with connection requests, to tie up your site’s resources. These resources can include web application firewalls and other protections your company may have in place. A common example is a SYN flood attack, which will prevent your web server from responding to requests from legitimate traffic.

Application Layer Attacks

This is an attack that targets your system’s application layer, which is the “surface” layer of your system. Since they are only aimed at the topmost part of your network, this malicious traffic can be confused with legitimate requests and is often harder to identify than other DDoS attacks.

These three tactics are frequently used together to cause the maximum amount of confusion and flooding of your network.

How to Protect Your Network From a DDoS Attack

Increase Your Bandwidth

While not a failsafe form of DDoS protection, expanding your company’s bandwidth can be helpful. Having more bandwidth can make it harder for DDoS attacks to overwhelm your network, and increases the chances that your operations will be able to proceed as normal if hackers strike. This can be a costly option, however, and is not guaranteed to prevent a larger and more strategic attack.

Know the Signs

Learning the signs of a DDoS attack in progress (and disseminating the information to your staff) can be helpful in stopping an attack before it does too much damage. If your organization is experiencing latency in your network speeds or having difficulty accessing specific websites, a DDoS attack might already be underway.

Strong Password Practices

It can be easy to overlook passwords, but they are important for DDoS prevention. Creating unique passwords and using multi-step authentication for devices is critical for DDoS protection. This goes for routers as well; routers can be a vulnerable access point for hackers and they should also be password protected.

Consider the Cloud

Implementing hybrid or cloud-based networks won’t keep hackers away, but it can help with DDoS attack protection. By storing your data across multiple servers, you can better protect it from cyberthieves and assure that operations can continue in the event of a DDoS attack. You will also be able to share responsibility for risk and cloud security with your service provider.

Develop a Strong Cyber Security Program

A DDoS is just one kind of attack, and DDoS mitigation is just one component of your overall security landscape. Many more security threats could affect your organization, and your best defense is an integrated and well-designed cyber security program that is tailored to your company’s specific needs.

A thorough network vulnerability assessment can help you analyze your system and determine what you need to educate your response team and protect your company from hackers.

ZenGRC Can Help Protect Your Network

Keeping your company safe from cyberattacks can be challenging, especially if you are using outdated techniques to manage your risk. Malware, phishing schemes, and compliance gaps are all crucial considerations for your company. If you’re searching for a network security solution for your organization, ZenGRC can help.

ZenGRC is an integrated software platform designed to give you a complete view of your company’s risk landscape. By tracking your risk in real-time you can prevent hackers before they have a chance to infiltrate your network. ZenGRC allows you to pinpoint vulnerabilities and manage your threats as your company grows.

Schedule a demo today to learn more about how ZenGRC can help keep your company safe from DDoS attacks and any other cyber threat that may come your way.