3 Strategies to Prevent DDoS Attacks on Web Content Purchase Systems
19 Dec 2023
Denial of Service – or DoS for short – means making something inaccessible or deactivating it. Technically, the following happens: in DoS attacks, a server is bombarded with so many requests that the system can no longer handle the tasks and, in the worst case, collapses.
In «distributed DoS attacks» a large number of different systems are used in a large-scale coordinated attack instead of individual systems. DDoS targets typically include online shopping websites, online casinos, and any other company or organization that provides online services
Preventing DDoS attacks is like having a vigilant guard that leaves the store doors open and allows customers to store in a disposable and secure environment. In this article, we will dissect the concept of DDoS, review common DDoS attack prevention methods, and discuss website cyber defense strategies.
Understanding DDoS Attacks
Criminals have used DDoS attacks for more than 20 years to cause targeted damage to companies and institutions. However, the goal is always the same — to cause as much damage as possible to the organization behind it. Most often, the attackers are:
- Individual criminals or groups
- Political activists
- Dissatisfied users
There are three most commonly used attack types.
1. Volume-based attacks
Volume-based attacks, also known as flooding attacks, are a type of DDoS attack in which a large amount of traffic is sent to the target network from various sources, often through botnets, to overload the network’s resources and affect the normal operation of the network.
Volume-based attacks can be carried out through various techniques, such as:
- UDP floods. In a User Datagram Protocol (UDP) flood attack, the attacker overwhelms a targeted server or network with multiple UDP packets without establishing a connection. The goal is to flood the target’s resources, such as server ports, leading to network congestion or even a complete denial of service for legitimate users.
- ICMP floods. Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) is a network layer protocol that is used for diagnostic functions, including error reporting. In an ICMP flood, the sheer volume of ICMP echo request (ping) packets sent to the target can overwhelm its processing capacity.
The retail industry has been a common target for volume-based DDoS attacks. These attacks aim to disrupt online sales during peak shopping periods, impacting customer experience and potentially leading to financial losses for the targeted retail business.
2. Protocol attacks
Protocol attacks are a special method of DDoS attacks in which the attackers exploit vulnerabilities in the networks’ protocols. Examples of this type of attack include:
- SYN floods. The attacker sends plenty of SYN (synchronize) requests without completing the handshake, overwhelming the target server’s resources.
- The Pinging of Death. This attack exploits vulnerabilities in network protocols, notably the ICMP. Attackers send oversized or malformed ping packets to a target, causing the system to crash.
- Smurf attacks. In a Smurf attack, the attacker sends a broadcast ping to multiple hosts, spoofing the victim’s IP address. As a result, these hosts reply to the victim, overwhelming its resources, much like how the Smurfs collaborate in large numbers.
For example, a Smurf attack might be launched to disrupt a competitor’s online store. The attacker sends a barrage of ICMP echo requests (pings) to the network’s broadcast address, spoofing the targeted IP address. This deceptive tactic causes numerous network hosts to respond to the competitor’s IP simultaneously, overwhelming their network capacity.
3. Application attacks
Application attacks, also known as application layer attacks, target the application layer of networks. These attacks are often harder to detect because they often appear as legitimate traffic and are not detected by security measures. Examples of application attacks include:
- HTTP/HTTPS floods. Attackers overload web servers by sending massive HTTP or HTTPS requests. This can consume server resources, making the website or application slow or unavailable.
- SQL Injection (SQLi). Exploiting vulnerabilities in web applications, attackers inject malicious SQL queries into input fields, manipulating the application’s database and potentially gaining unauthorized access to sensitive data.
- Cross-Site Scripting (XSS). Attackers inject malicious scripts into web applications, which are executed by unsuspecting users’ browsers. This allows the attacker to steal sensitive information or manipulate the web page’s appearance.
Attacks like those mentioned above can result in unauthorized access to sensitive customer information, leading to potential data breaches. Furthermore, if attackers manipulate transactions or gain access to payment details, it can result in financial losses for both the customers and the business.
How to prevent DDoS attacks and what resources does it take? Let’s discuss a few widespread strategies.
Strategy 1: Robust Infrastructure Design
A resilient network architecture not only enhances the system’s ability to withstand DDoS attacks but also ensures consistent performance and availability for users during both normal operations and peak traffic periods. A few key preventive measures may include:
- Traffic distribution. Utilize a content delivery network (CDN) to distribute content across geographically dispersed servers, providing speed improvements and redundancy. This ensures continued service availability by intelligently rerouting traffic in the face of a DDoS attack.
- DDoS mitigation. Integrate robust DDoS mitigation tools within the CDN infrastructure for real-time detection and filtering of malicious traffic, enabling rapid response and minimal disruption.
- Load balancing. Employ load balancing techniques to distribute incoming traffic evenly among multiple servers. This reduces the risk of server overload during a DDoS attack and ensures e-commerce security during peak load periods.
The continual evolution of cyber threats underscores the importance of regularly updating and enhancing DDoS attack prevention methods to avoid potential security risks. Data analytics solution companies offer services to individually assess network resilience to select the most effective protection method based on the available inputs.
Strategy 2: Traffic Monitoring and Analysis
New technologies are coming to the rescue, not only as a way to help attackers but also as a way to fight back. Machine learning capabilities make it possible to fight DDoS attacks in the following ways:
- Anomaly detection. ML algorithms can analyze normal traffic patterns at a web content purchase platform. When unusual patterns emerge, indicative of a potential DDoS attack, the system can automatically trigger preventive measures, such as traffic rerouting or increased filtering, to thwart the attack before it disrupts the entire network.
- Behavioral analysis. ML can assess user behavior on a web content purchase platform, learning typical interactions. Typically, legitimate users exhibit a more gradual and distributed pattern when attempting to log in. A sudden spike in login attempts from a single source could indicate a brute-force attack and trigger network protection measures in a timely manner.
- Predictive modeling. ML models can leverage historical data to predict potential DDoS threats. By analyzing past attack patterns, ML algorithms can anticipate similar future attacks and apply preemptive measures. This proactive defense approach allows web content purchase platforms to fortify their defenses and prevent disruptions before an attack occurs.
The future of securing networks from DDoS attacks lies in the adaptive, real-time, and precise ML capabilities. Its ability to analyze large datasets, detect evolving threats, and continuously improve makes it a cornerstone in the defense against any kind of cyber threat.
Strategy 3: Secure Coding Practices
When addressing networks and data exposure breaches in digital commerce, developers often find themselves in the spotlight. More often than not, this focus is justified. Insecure code frequently leads to injection attacks and stack-based exploits, pointing to the crucial role of secure coding practices. Check out a few security practices that can be helpful for DDoS attack prevention in web content purchase networks:
1. Input validation:
- Implement thorough input validation to ensure that user inputs meet specified criteria.
- Verify and sanitize user inputs to prevent injection attacks, such as SQL injection or Cross-Site Scripting (XSS).
2. Data sanitization:
- Ensure incoming data flow meets specific web security and compliance standards before processing or storage.
- Regularly audit and sanitize databases to remove any potentially malicious or unintended content.
3. Error handling:
- Implement robust error-handling mechanisms to manage unexpected situations gracefully.
- Avoid showing personal data in error messages as it can be stolen by attackers.
- Establish comprehensive logging practices to record and monitor system activities.
- Regularly review logs for anomalies, unauthorized access attempts, or suspicious activities for timely threat mitigation.
By building a security infrastructure from scratch, developers can fortify their DDoS attack prevention methods and increase the network resilience against common vulnerabilities.
Expert Tip: Incident Response Planning
Preventing DDoS attacks is much cheaper than dealing with the consequences. Therefore, the most important thing to mention in protecting websites from DDoS attacks is the protocol for dealing with the problem. Detailed planning and proper risk management ensure all cybersecurity team members understand their roles and responsibilities during a threat response. Check out a DDoS incident response plan to stand against attackers with a synchronized effort.
Step 1: Detection
- Use real-time monitoring to identify abnormal traffic patterns.
- Implement anomaly detection for quick identification and precise vulnerability assessment.
Step 2: Communication
- Activate internal channels for stakeholder notification.
- Establish communication protocols with DDoS mitigation services.
Step 3: Mitigation
- Isolate affected servers to prevent the spread of the attack.
- Route traffic analysis through DDoS scrubbing services or leverage CDNs.
Step 4: Documentation
- Document incident specifics and maintain a timeline for analysis.
- Engage law enforcement if the attack involves criminal activity.
Step 5: Recovery
- Keep users informed about service disruptions and progress.
- Gradually reintegrate servers and conduct a post-incident review.
A strategic approach for attack countermeasures will help you stay on your toes at a crucial time. Regular testing and updating the response plan fine-tune the organization’s readiness for the attack. These measures guarantee that the dedicated team can efficiently navigate the complexities of a cyber incident, just as a well-practiced fire drill prepares us for emergencies.
DDoS Mitigation Methods
The real difficulty in mitigating DDoS attacks is distinguishing between legitimate traffic and the attacker’s. DDoS traffic can take various forms, from a single source without spoofing to multi-vector attacks that adapt to your countermeasures. As attacks become more complex, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish DDoS traffic from normal traffic, making mitigation more difficult. What are the most effective DDoS attack prevention methods?
1. Web application security firewalls (WAFs)
Web application firewalls (WAFs) are web security solutions designed to protect web applications from DDoS attacks and application-layer attacks. WAFs safeguard web applications against targeted attacks, such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and other vulnerabilities, providing an additional layer of defense.
WAFs can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or as a service, providing flexibility for organizations with diverse infrastructure needs.
2. Anti-DDoS appliances
Anti-DDoS appliances are hardware or software solutions designed to detect and mitigate external attacks. These appliances can scale to handle large traffic volumes during DDoS attacks, ensuring uninterrupted service availability for legitimate users.
This approach often allows organizations to customize mitigation policies based on their specific needs. Some organizations prefer the on-premises deployment of anti-DDoS appliances, allowing them direct control over their defense mechanisms without relying on external services.
3. Cloud-based protection services
Data engineering services leverage cloud infrastructure and global networks to absorb and filter malicious traffic, ensuring that only legitimate traffic reaches the target network. Cloud-based services typically offer online protection based on a pay-as-you-go model. This eliminates the need for significant upfront investments in hardware or infrastructure.
Collectively, these DDoS mitigation tools contribute to a robust cybersecurity strategy, helping organizations protect their online assets from the disruptive impact of DDoS attacks.
For this reason, effective DDoS protection and overall cyber resilience is essential., and businesses must be well-educated to know for sure how to prevent DDoS attacks, which will be even larger and more complex in the future.
Understanding the threats and technologies available to organizations will help companies make informed decisions and find the best protection against current and future attacks.Would you like to find out more strategies for software security enhancement? Schedule a consultation with our expert!