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Defending Against DDoS Attacks: Strategies and Solutions

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DDoS Attack Mitigation Techniques

What is a DDoS Attack

A DDoS attack, also known as a distributed denial-of-service attack, is a malicious attempt to overwhelm a target system with a flood of traffic, rendering it inaccessible to legitimate users. Unlike traditional Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks, which originate from a sole source, DDoS attacks leverage a network of compromised computers, known as a botnet, to orchestrate the attack. Distributed Denial of Service attack occurs when multiple compromised computers are used to flood a target system with traffic, rendering it unable to respond to legitimate user requests. Unlike traditional Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, DDoS attacks utilize a distributed network of compromised devices, often forming what is known as a “botnet.” This network is centrally controlled by a malicious actor, who orchestrates the attack to amplify its impact.

Types of DDoS Attacks:

DDoS attacks can be classified into three main categories based on the type of traffic used to overwhelm the target:

Volume-Based Attacks: These attacks aim to consume the target’s bandwidth or processing power by flooding it with a massive volume of traffic. Common methods include HTTP requests, ping floods, and UDP floods.

Application-Layer Attacks: These attacks target specific vulnerabilities in the target’s application software or web server. They aim to exploit these weaknesses to consume resources or disrupt the application’s functionality.

Reflection Attacks: These attacks use intermediary servers to amplify the attack traffic. The attacker sends requests to these servers, which inadvertently reflect the requests back to the target, multiplying the impact of the attack.

Here are some diagrams showing recent DDoS attacks:

The DDoS Attack on Google’s Customer 2022:

According to Google’s blog: Starting from June 1, a customer utilizing Google Cloud Armor encountered a sequence of HTTPS-based DDoS attacks, reaching their peak at an astonishing forty-six million requests per second. This occurrence marks the most substantial Layer 7 DDoS attack on record, surpassing the previously reported record by at least 76%. Put the scale of this attack into perspective, it is akin to receiving the total daily requests directed at Wikipedia within 10 seconds.

The DDoS Attack on Google’s Customer

The incident commenced at around 9:45 a.m. PT, initiating with 10,000 requests per second, then rapidly surging to 100,000 RPS within eight minutes, followed by an additional escalation to a staggering 46 million RPS within just two more minutes, reaching its zenith at 10:18 a.m. PT. The entire DDoS assault persisted for a duration of 69 minutes. 

Google highlighted, “The attack leveraged encrypted requests (HTTPS), which would have taken added computing resources to generate.” The characteristics of the geographical distribution and the types of vulnerable services exploited in this attack closely resembled the Mēris family of attacks. Another interesting point is that in September 2021, the Mēris botnet was linked to a DDoS attack on the Russian internet giant Yandex, reaching a peak of 21.8million RPS.

The Largest Reported HTTP DDoS attack 2023:

In February 2023, Cloudflare reported identifying and successfully mitigating the most colossal DDoS attack to date. This attack registered a staggering seventy-one million requests per second, surpassing the previous record of 46 million RPS set in June 2022 by over 54%. Subsequently, a series of attacks also emerged, reaching peak rates of 50-70 million RPS, as outlined by Cloudflare. The targets of these attacks included a popular gaming service, cryptocurrency companies, hosting providers, and cloud computing platforms.

Notably, this is not the first instance in which Cloudflare has asserted to have thwarted the “largest” DDoS attack on record. Nonetheless, the company acknowledged that these attacks are exhibiting an escalating trend in terms of size, complexity, and frequency.

The Largest Reported HTTP DDoS attack

To Sum up, when we look at the attacks that have occurred over the years, we can see that both the frequency and volume of attacks have increased, below mentioned inline diagram for references :

Mitigating DDoS Attacks

DDoS Attack Mitigation Techniques

Deploying effective DDoS attack mitigation techniques is crucial. The defense against DDoS attacks requires a multi-layered approach that combines initiative-taking measures, real-time detection, and effective response strategies. Key DDoS attack mitigation strategies include:

Network protection like Implementing firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) to filter malicious traffic and protect network resources, Traffic filtering techniques like employing traffic filtering to identify and block suspicious traffic patterns, preventing them from reaching the target system, optimizing network and application resources to handle increased traffic volumes and minimize the impact of DDoS attacks.

Implement DDoS Protection Services Specialized DDoS protection services can filter and block malicious traffic, shielding the target from the brunt of the attack. Also, by strengthening network security by Implementing robust network security measures, such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems, can help identify and block malicious traffic before it reaches the target.

Educating employees by raising awareness among employees about DDoS attacks and their potential signs can help in early detection and response and develop a response plan: Having a comprehensive DDoS response plan in place ensures that organizations can react swiftly and effectively to minimize the impact of an attack.

Also read: Cybersecurity Misconfigurations and Mitigation Techniques

Conclusion:

DDoS attacks pose a significant threat to the interconnected world, disrupting online services, causing financial losses, and compromising the security of critical infrastructure. By understanding the nature of DDoS attacks, implementing effective ddos attack mitigation strategies, and staying informed about evolving threats, organizations can better protect themselves from the devastating consequences of these attacks. DDoS attacks are a significant threat to businesses and organizations of all sizes.

Understanding the several types of attacks, their motives, and implementing robust mitigation strategies are crucial steps in safeguarding online services and ensuring the stability of the digital ecosystem.

The rapid escalation of Distributed Denial of Service attacks, both in terms of their scale and complexity, underscores the urgent need for enterprises to bolster their defences against these growing threats. To effectively safeguard against DDoS attacks, it is imperative to grasp their operational mechanisms and analyse the prevailing tactics.

As technology advances, so too must our defences against these disruptive and potentially destructive attacks. By implementing initiative-taking security measures and having a well-defined response plan, organizations can effectively defend against DDoS attacks and minimize their potential impact. 

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Ramu Raju

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