Cyber attacks are one of the most significant risks the digital world is facing today. Let it be large private organizations or smaller ones, educational institutions and non-profit organizations, no sector is immune to cyber-attacks. The level of erudition of the attacks each sector faces is only steadily rising each passing day. One of the most severe and dangerous attacks that threaten the IT sector today is the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.
A DDoS hit is defined as an attack in which several compromised computer machines hit the target which can both be a server or a website or any network resource and create a denial of service to the legitimate users of the targeted resource. The attack is caused by creating a flood of incoming requests or by sending connection requests or malformed packets to the targeted resource. Such unprecedented huge traffic slows down the network or even crashes it down thereby creating a stoppage of services to its legitimate users or systems. DDoS is extensively being used to create cyber-extortion attacks. Such extortion attacks intend to blackmail financial organizations into forfeiting out huge ransoms to prevent from having their sites targeted down and intellectual property from being published in the underground.
Tips to Prevent DDoS Attack
As one can see that this may cause significant loss to an organization, it is very necessary to stop this before it causes havoc. Following are the ways to prevent DDoS attack.
Increase your bandwidth: One of the key steps to make any website DDoS resistant is to make sure that the infrastructure bandwidth is sufficient to withhold spikes in traffic that may occur due to any malicious activities. If the attacker is not able to muster enough traffic to match the infrastructure’s bandwidth the attack becomes ineffective.
Create redundancy into your infrastructure: To successfully overcome a DDoS attack against any server, it is important to disburse the incoming traffic across different data centres. A good load balancing system is required to distribute the traffic effectually between the servers in different centres.
For added security, the data centres should be hosted in different countries or at least in different regions of the same country. Disbursing the servers geographically will make it tough for an attacker to successfully intrude more than a part of the servers. This leaves the remaining servers unaffected and thus helps to manage at least some of the extra traffic of the targeted servers.
Configuring the network hardware against a DDoS attack: Several simple configuration changes on the hardware can assist to prevent a DDoS attack. For example, configuring a firewall or router to leave incoming ICMP packets or block DNS responses that are not from the network. Such configuration changes can block some of the DNS or ping-based volumetric attacks.
Include anti-DDoS hardware and software modules: Protecting the servers with the help of network firewalls and by including more specialized web application firewalls is one of the significant methods to prevent DDoS attack. Usage of proper load balancers is also a good practice. Inclusion of a proper software code protection helps to prevent DDoS protocol attacks such as an SYN flood attack. For example, monitoring the number of incomplete connections and throwing them out on reaching the threshold value.
Proper Software modules can also be incorporated into the website server software to provide DDoS prevention functionality. For example, Apache 2.2.15 includes a module mod_reqtimeout to safeguard itself from Application layer attacks such as Slowrosis attack. In this case, the module opens a connection to the server and remains open as long as possible by sending partial requests until the server can no longer accept new connections.
Include a DDoS protection Appliance: Security Vendors like NetScout Arbor, Fortinet, Check Point, Cisco and Radware provide protection appliances that are deployed along with the network firewalls. Such appliances block the DDoS attack before they start its action. This is carried out by including traffic behavioural baselining and blocking the abnormal traffic and disrupting traffic that comes from known attack signatures.
Protecting the DNS Servers: Any malicious attack brings the web servers offline by intruding the DNS server. So, there must be a proper redundancy for DNS servers. It is also required to place them in multiple data centres behind effective load balancers. A high-end solution is also required to transfer to a cloud-based DNS provider that renders high bandwidth and multiple-points-of -presence in data centres across the world.
How to stop a DDoS attacks on game servers?
Obtain a new IP address: Obtaining a new IP address is one of the best methods to avert a DDoS attack as the intruders normally configure their botnet to execute automatically as long as the resource IP is active. Websites like whatismyip.com helps to check if an IP address is successfully reset.
Reset the IP address: For a high streamer or a visible gamer, resetting the IP address every few days is a best practice to prevent DDoS attack. One of the simplest ways is to unplug the modem or router. Based on the ISP procedures, the device can remain unplugged between from 10 minutes up to 12 hours. The IP gets expired at this duration and a new IP is assigned when the hardware gets reconnected.
Additionally, it is also advisable to install a software firewall and an antivirus program on all computers connected to a network. It ensures that the device does not get infected by a Trojan virus and is converted into a bot. It is essential to make sure that the security software is configured properly to automatically download all crucial updates.
Use of a Virtual Private Network: Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) effectively shields an IP address behind a virtual wall. In case of a VPN, all the internet traffic is first routed to the provider’s network before reaching the open internet. When an attacker tries to hit your device using its IP detection tools, it first reaches the IP which is connected to the VPN’s IP. DDoS’ fake traffic first reaches the VPN’s server where it gets screened out before reaching the home network.
It is important to ensure that the VPN provider has experience in providing low-latency connections to gamers which guarantees that the IP remains secure.
Upgrade your Home Network: Ensure that the network hardware obtained by an ISP is up to date and secure. In case, a third-party modem or router is purchased or the same hardware from an ISP is used for more than 4 years, it requires to be upgraded. Certain routers and firewalls come with built-in security against DDoS attacks. It automatically blocks heavy bursts of network traffic, if it comes from several unknown sources. Usage of the blacklist feature blocks incoming traffic from any known Botnet IP.
AWS Best Practices for DDoS resiliency and usage of Amazon’s GameLift Security feature
- Deploy the game server in multiple regions: Deploying the game server in multiple locations provides redundancy that makes it tough for an intruder to bring down the entire game globally.
- Disburse players across many instances: With the help of the GameLift feature, it is possible to distribute the gamer load across several instances. Such a split prevents the game from experiencing 100% outage for all the gamers in cases where a single instance gets compromised. Setting the fleet maximum value to 2 or more instances makes sure that only a fraction of the gamers get affected if an instance falls.
- Autoscale the server capacity to absorb a DDoS attack: Autoscaling feature of GameLift helps to quickly maximise the capacity to absorb a DDoS attack. GameLift allows configuration that permits to horizontally scale the fleet to meet increasing player demand. Increasing the capacity by letting the fleet to scale up provides extra time to respond to a DDoS attack.
- Enabling resource protection for the game: GameLift’s resource protection feature prevents a player from creating a maximum number of game sessions thereby consuming the resources. The protection feature allows setting a resource creation limit which mentions the maximum number of game sessions a gamer can create within a stipulated period. This limit applies to all players in the fleet.
- Validate new player connection requests: Usage of GameLift allows a new player to join only by sending a request to the GameLift service. The GameLift service provides the game information to the player and connects him directly to the game server. When GameLift receives a new join request, it locates an open player host in the game session and it blocks it for the new player. It then responds with the game session’s IP address, port and player session ID. When a connection is established with the game session, the game client includes the player session ID. As a good practice, the game server validates the player session ID with the GameLift before permitting the player to join the game. Such validation will prevent other malicious game clients from joining the game and stealing the blocked slot.
To top it all, it is highly important to design the game server in such a manner which allows it to take steps to detect and block malicious traffic as soon as possible.
How to prevent DDOS attacks in Cloud Computing?
Besides ensuring reasonable bandwidth and scanning the systems to detect vulnerabilities, an effective technique in cloud computing to prevent DDoS attacks is the usage of Intrusion Prevention Methods. The Intrusion technique includes a combination of one or more detection mechanisms.
Signature-based detection: The traffic of any network is scrutinized along with the signature pattern. In case of an attack, the attacker’s signature is compared with the help of the signature database. The signature database normally contains several existing signature patterns that are similar to that of the attacker’s signature. If the incoming traffic matches with the database signature traffic, it will immediately take the required steps to block the traffic.
Firewalls: Firewalls are one of the crucial methods of the Intrusion Prevention System. A firewall installed within the network significantly detects and prevents any suspicious huge traffic at the commencing point itself. It also imposes certain strategies and preserves information for valid users both internally and externally.
Anomaly-based Detection: Anomaly-based detection includes the use of signature monitor systems. The monitor scrutinizes the network traffic continuously. If any mismatch in traffic from the existing normal traffic is visualized, it is regarded as an attack. It blocks the traffic from passing on to the concurrent networks and eliminates a DDoS attack.
NOMAD: It is a scalable monitoring system that detects the network anomalies by scrutinizing the IP packet header information. It immediately blocks the network traffic and signals for action if there is any variation from the normal flow of traffic.
Fuzzy based Technique: Fuzzy is a software tool that is used to test the authenticity of end-user application and protocols. Each time a new application or protocol is implemented it has to be tested with the fuzzy tool. The fuzzy tool determines the authenticity of the application and ensures that it is not a malicious program.
- Ingress filtering – This method blocks the incoming packets which are devoid of a legitimate source address with the help of routers. This method prevents the DDoS attack caused by IP address spoofing.
- Egress filtering – This technique requires specifying an outbound filter. In this process, the egress filter forces the packets that fail to meet the specified requirements (outbound value) to leave the network, thereby blocking them permanently from passing on to the other networks.
- Route based distributed packet filtering – In this case, route information is monitored to capture the IP address spoofed packets. Routing information is used to determine if a packet arriving at the router is genuine (i.e. having a valid source/destination address). This technique effectually minimizes a DDoS attack.
- Secure Overlay Services (SOS) – SOS architecture with is varied features protects the victim system. In this case, a packet is assumed to be genuine only if it comes from a legitimate server. Other packets are simply dropped in the overlay process.
How to prevent DDoS attack on a PC?
Be aware of the symptoms of a DDoS attack: The best possible method to protect your PC from a DDoS attack is to be aware of the symptoms of an attack.
- Different users of the network are not able to access the account.
- Experiencing frequent timeouts when trying to open a website.
- A sudden fall in the network speed.
- Users outside the network are unable to access the source website and tools.
- Display of messages indicating an attack. Sometimes the message also demands a ransom.
Avoid the usage of apps that display the IP address: Chat apps like Skype and other game applications make a PC prone to a DDoS attack. In case of a DDoS attack, the attackers first get connected to the IP address. So, it is always safe to avoid using such apps during an attack and keep the IP information as private as possible.
Usage of a VPN: A VPN shields the IP address by channelling internet activity through a different network. This shields the original IP and the PC can be simply disconnected from the VPN in case of an attack. The VPN providers will handle the issue and the PC remains safe.
Change the IP address: If the PC is experiencing an attack, the best thing to do is to disconnect from the internet and then reconnect with a different IP. One aspect to be taken care of is to check if the changed IP address is visible to the internet.
Contact your network service provider: If there exists a threat of a DDoS attack, network service provider and other customers belonging to the same network also gets affected. Contact the providers immediately to block the issue. Internet Service Providers have access to routers at a higher level and accessing such routers helps them to block the threat at the source itself.
Engaging a Managed Security Service: Managed Security Services provide a more secure process to protect the PC and network against a DDoS attack. Services like TrustWave and Solosoft work round the clock to detect and block malicious traffic and other hostile software.
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