What Is a DDoS Attack and How To Protect Yourself

DDoS attacks are some of the commonest and most frustrating types of cyberattacks. They can disrupt your business and cause server failure. DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. Cybercriminals typically launch DDoS attacks by sending numerous artificial traffic to a targeted site until it crashes. 

Sadly, DDoS attacks are easy to launch. They can be launched by anyone, regardless of their level of hacking expertise. The tools to carry out a DDoS attack are easily accessible, making it easy for even a novice to launch an attack. Using a VPN, among other practices, can help you prevent such attacks. 

What is a DDOS Attack and How Does it Happen? 

A DDoS attack is a cyberattack launched to disrupt the traffic of a targeted website server, by sending overwhelming traffic. With such a high level of traffic, the site will either experience long delays or a complete server failure. 

These attacks prevent regular traffic from reaching the site by bombarding it with compromised traffic and causing unexpected clogs. Cybercriminals use different compromised computers or networked sources to send attack traffic to the target website and carry out DDoS attacks.

The attacker first checks the traffic capacity limit the website can take. Then, it takes advantage of the site’s limitation by sending multiple requests until it exceeds the capacity. A website cannot function properly when a DDOS attack occurs. 

These attacks are typically launched on e-commerce sites including online casinos, e-shopping, and other online businesses. With such an attack, it will be impossible to carry out your usual business activity on your website.

Types of DDoS Attack 

There are three main types of DDoS attacks with the same aim: to weaken or disrupt business operations on a website. 

1. Volume-Based Attacks

Volume-based attacks are the most common DDoS attacks. These kinds of attacks use an overwhelming amount of large traffic to disrupt a server or website. Cybercriminals make use of internet connections or computers from all over the world to clog the website’s bandwidth.

This type of attack comes in different variants including UDP floods, ICMP floods, and other spoofed-packet floods. The magnitude of the attack is calculated in bits per second (Bps). 

2. Protocol DDoS Attack

In this type of DDoS attack, the cybercriminal sends numerous packets to the infrastructure and management tools of the targeted network. The hacker uses the flaws in protocols to overwhelm the targeted site. Some of the variants of these attacks are; Smurf DDoS, SYN floods, and others. The hacker can send multiple packets with a spoofed IP address to disrupt the site. Protocol DDoS attacks are calculated in packets per second (PPS). 

3. Application-layer Attacks

Application layer attacks are designed to attack a targeted application by flooding it with malicious requests. The attack focuses on the vulnerabilities of the application and ensures that it does not successfully deliver content to users of the site. Some variants of this attack include Slowloris, Slow Post, HTTP(S) flooding, Mimicked User Browsing, among others.

How To Stop DDoS Attacks 

Here are a few things you can do to stop a DDoS attack. 

Identify the DDoS Attack 

The first thing to do is to be able to recognize that your servers are under attack. If you run your servers by yourself or have a team in charge of it, they need to be proactive enough to recognize it as soon as possible. The sooner you identify the attack, the easier it is to stop it. 

You should know the usual amount of inbound traffic your page receives on average. When it starts to overly exceed that amount, you should be able to notice it and act fast. Know the difference between a DDOS attack and a large surge of visitors, and act accordingly. 

More Than Enough Bandwidth

Another way to stop the DDoS attack is to make your server’s bandwidth more than you need. Having more than enough bandwidth will help you accommodate such a high traffic rate without affecting your business. 

Mitigate the Attack 

If you run your web servers by yourself, you can take a few measures to mitigate the attack immediately. You can set your router to a predetermined limit to prevent the server from getting overwhelmed.

Alternatively, you can call a DDOS mitigation specialist to help fix the problem whether you run your servers or not. 

Tips for Protecting Yourself Against DDoS Attacks 

They are a few things you can do to prevent your business from experiencing DDoS attacks. Here are a few tips:

1. Use a VPN

Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can help you prevent a DDoS attack on your website. VPNs have an encrypted connection that can help you protect your actual servers. With a good VPN service, your servers will be private and secured thereby preventing DDoS attacks. If an attack is launched, it won’t affect your servers. 

2. Secure Your Network Infrastructure

If you have safe and secure network infrastructures, it will become difficult for cybercriminals to launch a DDoS attack on your website. Besides using a VPN, you can use threat management systems that can carry out content filtering, firewalls, load-balancing, and other defense techniques. Having such infrastructures will drastically minimize the possibility of a DDoS attack. 

3.  Monitor & Secure Your Site

One major way of preventing DDoS attacks is simply to monitor and provide basic security for the site. Pay attention to the seemingly little errors or changes to your site, and act as fast as possible. 

More often than not, cybercriminals capitalize on the flaws in a site to launch an attack. Be proactive in dealing with your site’s issues. 

Take basic security measures like changing your password regularly, using complex passwords, and anti-phishing methods. These measures will drastically reduce the risk of DDoS attacks. 

4. Use the Cloud

Make use of cloud-based services to increase your bandwidth and resources. Hardware components have higher tendencies to get compromised. Instead, combine both the cloud and hardware components to reduce the risk of a DDoS attack.

Reputable cloud-based software usually have experienced software engineers behind the scenes to prevent cyberattacks. Additionally, the cloud can absorb cyberattacks before it reaches its destination. 

VPNs to Prevent DDoS Attacks

Without a doubt, a good VPN can help you avoid DDoS attacks. However, you should use a premium VPN service provider to get the best security features. Here are some VPNs you should consider: 

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN devices

Features

  • Number of servers: More than 3,000
  • Speeds: Unlimited
  • Server locations: 160 in 94 countries
  • Maximum devices supported: 5
  • 24 live chat: Yes
  • 30 day money back guarantee: Yes

Pros/Cons

  • Fastest VPN out there
  • Strict no logs policy
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Few discounts
Visit ExpressVPN

In terms of security, ExpressVPN is one of the best service providers. The software has an AES 256-bit encryption connection to keep your network safe and secured. Additionally, ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers in 94+ countries. With these servers, it becomes very difficult for DDoS attacks and other cyber threats to occur. Your data will be encrypted, leaving little or no chance for cybercriminals.

You don’t have to worry about VPN connection failure because ExpressVPN also has a kill switch to prevent data leaks if the connection fails. Besides its strong encryption, the VPN service provider has other security features. It has an IP address checker, a malware protector, and two leak testers. With these features, you can protect your servers from getting attacked.

Additionally, the app has a password generator to help you change your password often and prevent any hacks on your servers. ExpressVPN also has a strict no-log policy. Your data will neither be saved nor shared by the company.

ExpressVPN is quite affordable and allows up to five (5) devices to connect simultaneously. You can use one subscription to connect up to five of your devices with a VPN at the same time. It is compatible with Mac, iOs, Windows, Android, and Linux.

  • Pros: Fastest VPN out there; Strict no logs policy; 256-bit AES encryption;
  • Lowest price: $6.67

NordVPN

NordVPN devices

Features

  • Cryptocurrency accepted? Yes
  • Simultaneous connections: 6
  • Dedicated IP-addresses? Yes
  • Servers: 5342 in 58 countries

Pros/Cons

  • Lots of pricing options
  • Netflix support kept up to date
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Slow app
Visit NordVPN

NordVPN is a top-notch VPN service provider to help you prevent DDoS attacks and other cyber threats. 

The service provider has more than 5,000 servers in 59 countries spread all over the world. With the high number of servers, your actual server will be protected if a DDoS attack is launched on your site. 

NordVPN has top-tier security features to protect you from cyberattacks of any form. It has an AES 256-bit encryption model that encrypts your data connection and gives you privacy and security. The encrypted connection, alongside other security features, will prevent anyone from bombarding your servers with a large amount of traffic and disrupting your site. Additionally, the VPN service provider has key security features like DNS protection and a kill switch. It also has a CyberSec feature equipped to block malware and other cyber threats. 

The company has a strict no-logs policy, so you can be assured that your data is forever private and secured. NordVPN will not save your data or send it to a third party. The VPN is equally affordable and allows you to connect up to six (6) devices at the same time. It is compatible with nearly all devices and will prevent you from being a victim of cyberattacks. As a top VPN service provider, NordVPN has an excellent customer service team to answer any query and help you navigate through the app. 

  • Pros: Lots of pricing options; Netflix support kept up to date; 256-bit AES encryption;
  • Lowest price: $3.71

Conclusion 

DDoS attacks occur when a cybercriminal launches an exceedingly high amount of traffic on your site, far beyond what your servers can handle, till it crashes. They are very common and can shatter a business’s operations. However, you can prevent DDoS attacks by monitoring the activities on your site and using premium VPNs like the ones mentioned above.