While temperatures are cooling, the Wild, Wild Net is heating up. To cyber bandits in the Wild, Wild Net, data can be as valuable as gold. And they will do just about anything to get their hands on it.
To them, breaking a few eggs to get to data is nothing.
This leads us to our next most wanted cybercriminal: The Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacker.
A DDoS attack can be a terrifying event. Imagine, starting your day off at your office. You grab your cup of coffee and go over to your computer.
And to your surprise, nothing works. There are a large number of popular websites and business tools that are completely inaccessible to you.
You turn to the neighboring employee, same deal. Your business’s entire network is on lockdown, and no one has the key.
And that is in essence a distributed-denial-of-service attack.
It’s a gut-wrenching experience. And even more terrifying, these attacks are on the rise.
On September 4, 2020, CISA issued an alert about the rise of DDoS attacks on many sectors of organizations. According to CISA the attacks are heavily focused on financial and business organizations.
DDoS attacks are one of the more devastating cyberattacks. Under a DDoS siege, businesses risk the loss of traffic and sales. But also, businesses are unable to access vital tools for everyday operations.
To answer the question in this article’s title – The answer is yes. DDoS attacks are a concern for small businesses. And here’s what you need to know to protect your small business against DDoS attacks.
What is a Distributed-Denial-of-Service Attack?
Let’s start with the basics first.
A DDoS attack is a type of denial-of-service (DoS) attack. And a DoS attacks occurs when legitimate users are unable to access systems, devices, or another network due to the actions of a malicious hacker. The hacker accomplishes a DoS attack by flooding the target’s network or host with traffic. This flood will crash the victim’s device and/or network causing it to not perform.
In a DDoS attack, the incoming traffic originates from many different sources. By using multiple sources, it is almost impossible to stop the attack.
The goal of a DDoS attack is to exhaust all the victim’s recourse. And it is highly effective at that.
How do Distributed-Denial-of-Service Attacks Work?
DDoS attackers often leverage the use of a botnet, which is a group of hijacked internet-connected devices. The botnets help the cybercriminal attack on a larger scale by acting as a source of traffic. Botnets can also distribute phishing emails and malware.
In most cases, DDoS attackers take advantage of security vulnerabilities to gain access to numerous devices. Once in control, an attacker can command their botnet to conduct a DDoS assault on the target.
Unfortunately, DDoS attacks have increased in magnitude due to the increase in smart devices.
And devices that are apart of the Internet of Things (IoT) are often more vulnerable.
IoT devices often use default passwords and do not have strong security postures. More so, an infection of IoT devices often goes unnoticed by users. Thus, making it easy for an attacker to compromise thousands of these devices.
How to Prevent a Distributed-Denial-of-Service Attack?
What makes DDoS attacks effective is their ability to direct a large amount of traffic to one target. And if an organization’s resources are in one location, then the attacker only needs to push the traffic to one end-user. This is why DDoS attacks are so dangerous for small businesses.
But luckily, there are a couple of things you can do to help prevent a DDoS attack. So, let’s get into it:
1. Keep everything up to date.
I know we said this before on our blog, but updates are critical to your network’s health. Updates often include patches for security flaws.
And don’t delay, since software vulnerabilities are major infection vectors for botnets. So please, be sure your computer’s OS and applications are running the latest versions.
2. Understand what Normal Web Traffic Looks Like
By being able to monitor web traffic, you will have an accurate idea of what normal traffic looks like. And if traffic seems unusually high, you take that as a red flag.
Ideally, you want security personnel, like a managed security service provider (MSSP), to set up web traffic alerts.
3. Consider Cloud-Based Applications
Cloud-based applications can more easily scale up to handle any DDoS attacks. That’s because the cloud tends to have more bandwidth and resources than a private network.
Second, the nature of the cloud means it is a diffuse resource. Cloud-based apps can absorb malicious traffic before it ever reaches its intended destination.
However, there are pros and cons to taking your business onto the cloud. You can read about that here: https://www.mrwsystems.com/pros-cons-of-the-cloud-for-small-business/
4. Consider enterprise-level tools.
Antivirus doesn’t cut it anymore.
First, you need to establish security basics. The basics should include things like security awareness training and advanced endpoint protection.
Then, you want to consider investing in 24/7 security monitoring and alerting programs.
We recommend you have an honest conversation with your IT provider. Figure out what they can and can’t do. Most IT providers cannot handle big security threats, like DDoS attacks. In that case, it’s time to call in the big guns, which leads us to our next measure.
5. Implement a DDoS Solution
This prevention tip is your best defense against DDoS attacks.
A DDoS solution can protect against both application and bandwidth attacks. This type of solution can detect abnormal traffic flows and redirect traffic away from your network. In essence, the DDoS traffic is filtered out, and clean traffic is passed on to your network.
To correctly implement a DDoS solution, SMBs should consider partnering with a managed security service provider. And our cybersecurity team, NetGarde, can help with that. To learn more about NetGarde and all we offer, please follow this link. https://www.mrwsystems.com/netgarde/
6. Have a Plan in Place
Defending against a DDoS attack doesn’t stop at prevention and mitigation. Because a DDoS attack shuts down your entire operation, you need to prepare for falling victim to one. And that’s where recovery and continuity plans come into place.
Within your plan, you should include a disaster recovery site. This site should have backups of all your data, so it can serve as a temporary network and system. That means you’ll be able to continue business while your main network is down.
Recovery plans are a big topic. And I strongly encourage that you learn as much as you can about it. Having the right plan could save your business. To get you started: we put together a video that explains both disaster recovery and business continuity.
The DDoS attacks are a massive problem for corporations on the Wild, Wild Net. Small and mid-sized businesses are increasingly the targets of these deadly attacks. Now more than ever SMBs need security solutions that can provide full protection.
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this article it is that you can’t put cybersecurity on hold. Don’t be a sitting duck. Instead, find the right people to help protect your business.