Web attacks. Unexpected downtime. Lost revenue. These are a few of a website administrator’s worst nightmares. Unfortunately, these scenarios are becoming increasingly common due to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Due to their rise, year after year, no site or server is 100% safe from them.
Still, knowledge is power—and by having a better understanding of how these attacks work and how you can go about protecting your site, you can reduce your chances of falling victim to one of these vicious attacks.
The Dangers of a DDoS Attack
When a DDoS attack occurs, the attacker sends a large influx of “fake” traffic to the target server. This fake traffic can be generated using computer software, and the size of the traffic influx can vary greatly from just a few gigabits per second to several hundred gigabits per second. The greater the volume of fake traffic, the larger and more powerful the attack.
When this influx of traffic from a DDoS attack hits a website’s server, the server itself can easily become overwhelmed to the point of slowing down substantially or even shutting down completely. This can inevitably lead to slow page load times or even inability for site users to reach the site itself.
If you have a website that relies on regular web traffic, then you know just how problematic unexpected server downtime can be. You might lose out on ad revenue, eCommerce profits, and other means of income as a result of downtime caused by a DDoS attack. Not to mention, your site’s reputation may be tarnished as a result.
What is DDoS Protection and How Does it Work?
DDoS attacks can happen to any website at any time, but there are measures you can take to protect your servers from downtime. Specifically, many web hosting companies these days are beginning to offer DDoS protection packages, which are designed to help reduce a server’s chances of falling victim to one of these attacks.
DDoS protection works by essentially acting as a “filter” for web traffic and requests coming into the site. Traffic can be seamlessly and quickly filtered through so that legitimate web traffic can continue onto the site without problem or delay, whereas traffic that is suspected to be fake or software-generated can be blocked.
DDoS protection packages come in a wide range of options, typically ranging in the size of the attack they can protect against. For example, you might see protection packages for smaller attacks of 10 gigabits per second to attacks of 100 gigabits per second or more. The more protection you have, the smaller the chances that your site will be affected by one of these attacks. However, sizes of DDoS attacks are seemingly increasing every day, so there is never a 100% guarantee that your server will never be impacted.
Do You Have Enough DDoS Protection on Your Server?
Still, for most website owners and administrators, it is more than worth the added cost to have some form of DDoS protection in place—especially when you consider the peace of mind that can come along with this type of security.
Some web hosting companies these days offer free standard levels of DDoS protection, such as for smaller attacks of up to 10 gigabits per second. If your current web host isn’t offering any kind of free basic protection, now might be a good time to look into switching hosting companies.
On the other hand, basic protection may not be enough for all websites. For example, if you only have protection for DDoS attacks of up to 10 gigabytes per second but you’re hit with an attack of 50 gigabits per second, there’s still a good chance that your server is either going to experience downtime or significant slowdowns. This is where paying a little extra per month for increased levels of DDoS protection may be worth it.
Generally, the level of protection you should purchase will depend on the typical traffic levels for your site on a daily basis. Sites with lower traffic may be fine with a “basic” level of protection, though it’s important to figure out whether you expect a lot of traffic or are in an industry that is prone to DDoS attacks. Consult with your hosting company, server administrator or analyze your ow traffic to try and gauge if you need a higher level of protection.
Instances of DDoS attacks have been on the rise for years, and this trend unfortunately shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. With this in mind, all website owners would likely benefit from having a dedicated server package with at least some basic level of DDoS protection included.