It's no secret that DDoS attacks can wreak havoc on websites of all sizes. Not only can a DDoS attack cause a site's visitors to experience slow page-load times and other errors, but in the case of larger attacks, site servers can be completely overwhelmed and shut down. And, of course, for websites that generate ad revenue from site traffic or for e-commerce sites, the downtime and other turmoil caused by a DDoS attack can have serious financial consequences. Depending on the severity of the attack and the impact on site visitors, a DDoS attack can even affect a company's reputation.
Unfortunately, websites of all sizes can fall victim to a DDoS attack at any time. In fact, the larger and more popular a site is, the larger a target it can be to DDoS hackers. By having a better understanding of how DDoS attacks work and how DDoS protection options can help thwart an attack, website owners and administrators can make better decisions regarding their site security.
Understanding DDoS Attacks
The purpose of a DDoS attack is to overwhelm a site's servers with "fake" traffic generated by hackers. Because a server is only set up to handle so much web traffic at once, the large influx of bogus traffic from a DDoS attack can lead to site slow-downs or could even cause the site's servers to shut down altogether. This is because the server is not able to filter through the traffic quickly enough to allow legitimate traffic through while keeping the fake traffic out. If this happens, access to the site will be impossible until the servers are brought back online. And depending on the severity of the attack (as well as the experience of the hosting company in recovering from these attacks), this could take hours or even days.
There are a few different types of DDoS attack, though they ultimately all share the same goal of taking a site's servers down or severely compromising their performance. The three main types of DDoS attacks are:
- Bandwidth attacks
- Packet-flooding attacks
- Application attacks
How DDoS Protection Works
All website owners and administrators should have at least some level of DDoS protection in place on their dedicated server. Even sites that don't rely on ad revenue or profits from e-commerce sales could have a lot to lose from a DDoS attack. Reputations can be tarnished by even one attack, after all.
Fortunately, many hosting companies these days offer different DDoS protection packages that can help thwart these attacks. Some hosting companies even provide free "standard" protection against smaller DDoS attacks, which is a nice selling point. Generally, DDoS protection varies in terms of the size of attack it can protect against. A smaller attack would generally be considered anything under 20 gigabytes per second, though larger attacks have been recorded as large as 500 gigabytes per second. Website owners will need to determine the scope of protection they need based on the risk factors, daily traffic and other key factors.
Specifically, DDoS protection works by adding another "layer" of security to a site before it allows traffic to come through. DDoS protection essentially filters through web traffic as it comes in, and it does so quickly and efficiently enough so that legitimate traffic can pass through without delay, whereas fake traffic is blocked. This ultimately provides the best user experience for real site visitors while keeping the speed of the site maximized. These protection plans can vary in their cost depending on the level of protection desired, but the expense can generally be added conveniently onto one's existing monthly hosting payment.
Additional Benefits of DDoS Protection
Aside from protecting your site from a devastating DDoS attack, having this protection can give you added peace of mind as a site owner or administrator. And in today's world of constantly evolving cyber-security threats, many would agree that peace of mind is priceless. Many DDoS protection or mitigation packages will also inform you if an attack is attempted on your site, which can give you additional information and data to help predict and thwart future attacks. These are just a couple of the main benefits to having this type of protection.
Many site owners aren't sure how much protection they need, and the best way to figure this out is usually to speak with a reputable hosting company. They should be able to assess the size of your site, as well as other important components, to make a recommendation regarding your hosting plan and protection. From there, you can add the protection to your monthly plan and adjust or increase it as your site grows. This is by far the best way to reduce your site's risk of falling victim to a DDoS attack.