Protect Your Website against DDoS Attacks

DDoS AttacksAs the owner of a website, DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial of Service attacks) are your worst nightmare. As if hackers trying to steal personal information from your site were not enough, you have to worry about hackers attempting to completely destroy your website. The only way to defend your site is to understand what DDoS attacks are and why they are typically launched. That information will help you take action to ensure an attack doesn’t take your website down for the count.

When Traffic Goes Bad

Traffic is always a good thing for an ecommerce website, except when it is used against you by vicious hackers. Denial of service attacks will send an overwhelming amount of traffic to your website, so the site can no longer keep up with the crowd. The bogus traffic overtakes the system so legitimate traffic cannot be accommodated.

Imagine standing outside on the street in the middle of a crisis. There are people running everywhere, loud noises booming in the sky, people screaming everywhere, and flashes of bright light all over the place. There is so much stimuli going through your brain that it is unable to decipher any clear messages and shuts down. This is essentially what happens during this type of website attack.

How do hackers manage to send all of that traffic to your website at once to carry out DDoS attacks? They use botnets, which are other hacked computer systems. They take control of those computers and redirect all of their activity to your server. This takes most servers down in a short period of time.

The Motive behind DDoS Attacks

This is the most frustrating part of these attacks! In many cases, hackers launch these attacks just to show their skill or create an exciting challenge for themselves. In other cases, the attacks may be backlash against businesses that have made waves with the wrong person. For instance, MasterCard’s website was hit by an attack for backing PayPal up when they froze accounts for Wikileaks.

In most cases, the only way a hacker can profit from launching DDoS attacks is to accept payment for launching attacks on behalf of others. In some rare cases, a skilled online businessman may launch an attack on competing websites to push their sites ahead.

If your company is publically traded, then they may profit by shorting your stock. If you happen to lose your server to an attack on the most profitable day of the year for your site, then you may suspect foul play from a competitor out for blood.

How to Protect Your Site From DDoS Attacks

Many smalltime DDoS attacks can be warded off simply by configuring your website to read only packet headers for incoming traffic. Rather than immediately processing every request that comes through, your system starts to scan incoming traffic just as your email program scans incoming messages for viruses. All traffic that looks illegitimate on this scan will be turned away.

When more skilled attacks are launched with hundreds of thousands of hacked bots in play, even the most sophisticated system admins will struggle to overcome the assault. Evaluating the headers for all of that fake traffic takes too long, so the server needs to be reconfigured to overcome the attack. Increased bandwidth and CPU power may also be necessary.

The Good News

There is one thing working in your favor: DDoS attacks are not all that common. Most website owners have more to worry about from hackers who want to obtain personal information that can turn a fast profit. As long as you don’t become stiff competition for someone on the dark side, you probably will never have to worry about this.

If you do get hit with a small attack, reconfigure your servers immediately. If the attack is too large to be overcome in that manner, get professionals on your side right away.

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