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My 2 Cents Preventing Ddos Attacks

Discussion in 'Server Configuration and Security Issues' started by djweb, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. djweb

    Yellow Belt

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    A new website that’s even down for a few minutes, is the kiss of death for the webmaster. In those few moments, your website will lose credibility and will never gain it back, unless you’ve been around for a long time.

    The Problem[​IMG]

    Sometimes accidents happen, but we are not going to be talking about preventing accidents. We are going to talk about DDOS attacks that have plagued the internet for the past few years. A handful of teenagers with a few bots and thousands of compromised machines can take down your entire website by overwhelming your servers or bandwidth and can ensure that your website no longer functions.

    I can tell you right now, that this is very much preventable. And we’ll be looking into the different ways that we can prevent DDOS attacks, but first let us understand what DDOS attacks are and why they are harder to stop:

    DDOS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. Basically, when a single hacker using a single system tries to cause trouble, it’s called a Denial of Service Attack/DOS attack. Such attacks are easier to stop – you can simply block the attacker's IP address thereby stopping the attack.

    However, DDOS attacks are ‘distributed’. This means that they come from a variety of IP addresses and can’t be stopped simply because hundreds or thousands of IP addresses could be involved in the attack. You can’t block anything. And by the time you will think about doing anything, your website would have become inaccessible to users.

    DDOS attacks are of 3 types:
    1. Application Layer attacks – Say you have an apache server handling things for your website. Hackers will first find out what server you’re using and then attack your server. The attack is simply in the form of resource requests, however because the requests are extremely high in number, the server crashes.
    2. Volume based attacks – These attacks are all about saturating the bandwidth, thereby making it impossible to connect to any of your resources.
    3. Protocol attacks – These are the most sophisticate sort of attacks. Basically, when you get a request, the size of the ping request is so large that it causes memory buffers to overflow, thereby preventing legitimate data packets to utilize your services.
    All of these things may seem a bit heavy to understand if you’re not a technical person and outsourced most of the web hosting and programming related functions. So, it is likely that you also do not have the skills or resources to prevent a DDOS attack. So what is the solution?

    The Solution

    Cloud-based DDOS prevention systems

    Companies like Cloudflare offer free services that help you protect your website. If you have just one website, most of these services will let you use their tech for free. This is exactly what we want.
    How does this work? Well, let us say we are using Cloudflare. It will act as the middle man and ensure that as soon as a DDOS attack starts, cloudflare will start preventing multiple users from accessing the website all at once. It will show an intermediate page that will say something like, “The browser will redirect to xyz.com. Please allow 5 seconds”. Such delays are usually enough to prevent DDOS attacks. Here is a long list of major players in the DDOS mitigation business. Please feel free to add more if you know about them: CloudFlare, Incapsula, Akamai, OpenDNS and VeriSign.

    Server level/DIY solutions

    You can simply configure your server to ensure that your web server does not get overwhelmed. Start by lowering the SYN, UPD and ICMP thresholds and rate limit your router to ensure that the server does not get overloaded. Also, have a backup server, so that in case things go wrong, you can switch over to the other one – remember, load balancers will not really work in a DDOS attack.

    Best Solution

    The best solution is not to host a server yourself. Let the bigger companies handle things. They have the scale and bandwidth to withstand such attacks. Say you have your server hosted on Amazon, the likeliness of your server actually going down are less likely. This is because Amazon Web Services allow you to scale up operations in case the traffic to your website increases and scale down when traffic returns to normal levels. This was done to help seasonal websites such as Superbowl sites that receive less traffic during the off season and a lot of traffic during Superbowl to actually stay viable. On top of that, if you use DDOS mitigation services such as say Cloudflare, you will stay online no matter how many attackers try to take your website down. The more layers of protection you have the better.

    This was about preventing DDOS attacks. Please feel free to provide additional tips and tricks so that we can all stay safe.
     
    #1 djweb, Feb 2, 2016 at 6:05 PM
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2016
  2. cheezcarls

    cheezcarls It's Game Time!
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    Very well explained. Nice information you got there @djweb@djweb about preventing ourselves from any DDOS attacks. I may not have some experience on being attacked by DDOS, but the first time I heard it was from the PTC sites and other money making opportunities out there. I see that their websites are down for a moment, but on their email it says that a DDOS attack happened, in which members like me are getting frustrated on this one. Having a high security feature like Cloudflare on your website is one of the best solutions as what you've said here. Thumbs up for this one.
     
  3. djweb

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    Glad that you liked it. True, a lot of sites have been facing DDOS attacks. One such site is the gaming site Elder Scrolls Online, which was taken down by hackers yesterday. The Elder Scrolls Online European megaservers under DDOS attack

    So, the need to prevent or at least delay DDOS attacks has increased.
     

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