Grown-up DDoS: how only automated mitigation can protect you now


DDoS has a long history, and like so many things in cybersecurity – where working DDoS strategies are foiled, the bad guys think of new ones. Unfortunately, the bad guys now have machines that can think of new methods. Whether it’s AI, machine learning, or something else, the fact is that your DDoS enemies have just grown up.

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How do you protect yourself against the new, smarter DDoS strategies? Simply put, you must use the latest automated anti-DDoS tools against criminals if you stand any chance of avoiding costly DDoS attacks. Read this article to see how DDoS changed, why classic tactics no longer work and how automated anti-DDoS protection saves the day.

DDoS has evolved into something far eviler.

In 1995, the first DDoS attack involved humans manually repeating site access attempts to drown a service out. 1999 saw the rise of botnets, but these weren’t all that smart and sent loads of signals hoping to swamp a service.

As typical attack vectors saw more effective mitigation, DDoS turned to vectors including DNS servers and specific OS and application server vulnerabilities. However, these were relatively easy to mitigate as traffic patterns were identifiable. Advanced methods make it almost impossible to mitigate DDoS attacks, automatically generating random source addresses to confuse anti-DDoS services.

Forget about standard tactics.

Classic DDoS mitigation works on a rules-based system. We know what regular traffic looks like, and we can identify destructive DDoS attacks by that measure. Simple, right? That would be true only if the DDoS attack uses standard attack methods. While a rules-based mitigation system can be effective, it becomes almost impossible when a DDoS attack uses various techniques and vectors.

Many rules-based systems make use of a flagging system that requires human intervention. Overwhelming humans with too many flags won’t be able to press the mitigation switch. Furthermore, even the most advanced DDoS techniques that effectively stop traffic when a rule is violated can be outfoxed by DDoS attackers using machine learning technologies that automatically scan for vulnerabilities across a broad spectrum of attack vectors.

How automated DDoS mitigation can thwart attacks

DDoS attackers are no longer taking a simple approach to their victims. As a result, your DDoS protection system needs to be extremely intelligent to stop attacks. Automated solutions, however, can deliver an impenetrable layer of protection – identifying and preventing attacks within seconds.

Much of this automation success lies in data-processing muscle: quickly analyzing incoming network transactions and applying machine learning technologies to detect requests that are not genuine. Automated DDoS protection does not rely on simple rules. Instead, it can see even brand-new attack patterns.

With DDoS protection using machine learning algorithms, you move from basic protective measures such as rate-limiting and rules-based decisions to DDoS protection that can intelligently analyze behavioral characteristics and automatically build detection patterns on the fly, stopping even the most intelligent attacks.

Choosing automated DDoS mitigation

By now, it should be clear that manual, static, rules-based DDoS protection will not provide much protection in the new area of automated DDoS attacks. So, you need mechanical protection – but how do you choose an anti-DDoS service? Is it merely based on the intelligence of its software?

Automated DDoS does need to be intelligent, but DDoS vendors need to meet other criteria too. No matter how smart, any DDoS service will be overwhelmed if it cannot handle high traffic levels. DDoS attacks are increasingly getting bigger: a recent attack on GitHub reached 1.3Tbps, an enormous amount of traffic by any measure. Look for a DDoS vendor who can defend against multi-terabyte attacks.

The protection method also matters because cloud-based anti-DDoS that stops attacks before it reaches your network is preferable to internal equipment that can only attempt to stop an attack once it has entered your network perimeter.

Protection is essential

Like many things in life, there is (thankfully) no guarantee that your business will suffer from a DDoS attack. There is, however, a risk. With this risk comes the potential for an enormous loss: should your organization suffer from a DDoS attack, it can expect to lose significant sums. In 2017 the average cost of DDoS attacks was $2.5 million per incident.

Those in charge of cybersecurity, therefore, have a two-fold responsibility. First, they need to ensure they deploy DDoS protection in the first instance: DDoS protection is essential because the risks and motives around DDoS attacks are too many. Next, they need to ensure they use effective, automated DDoS protection to stop the latest DDoS attacks in their tracks.

Choosing a vendor is essential to this two-step process, and we’ve outlined which factors you need to consider. Pick the right vendor, and rest assured that even the most advanced automated DDoS attacks won’t leave your businesses reeling from the damage.