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DDoS Attacks: Don't Be In Denial of the Risks

Rick Rumbarger

The business world forever changed when the Internet entered the scene and it has been driving constant change ever since. Businesses are now connected to the Internet in almost every aspect of their daily operation. Today, most businesses rely on it to allow them to make phone calls, send emails, collect payments, connect to their supply chains, store critical data remotely and promote their products/brands.

With all the advantages of this online environment come new risks to a business's brand and revenue stream. One of these risks — an everyday event now — is Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Unlike traditional attacks by hackers which breach a business's security systems, resulting in defaced websites, intellectual property theft and/or customer data theft, a DDoS attack focuses on making a business's Internet connected infrastructure (e.g. web servers, email servers, database servers, FTP servers, APIs, etc.) unavailable to legitimate users. A business's brand reputation, which can take years to establish, can be swept away in just a few hours from a single DDoS attack in the same way a natural disaster like a flood or earthquake can impact a traditional brick and mortar business.

DDoS attacks cause customers and prospective customers to worry about a business's infrastructure, stability and basic security practices. It takes only minutes for blogs, tweets and other news forums to be alerted of an outage stemming from an attack, which is then permanently searchable for future prospective customers, partners and potential investors to find. The damage caused by a well crafted DDoS attack is seldom limited to the initial revenue losses suffered during the outage and/or subsequent infrastructure repair. This is why many government regulations and corporate governances now require protection from these ever increasing risks.

Unfortunately, investments made only a few years ago in DDoS protection can no longer provide adequate shielding from modern day attacks. DDoS attacks, which used to require thousands of computers and years of training to launch, can now be done by a handful of novices with free downloadable software on a few home PCs connected to DSL/cable modems. This has allowed social media to foster "hacktivists," who use DDoS attacks as a non-violent tool to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with a business and/or promote political ideology.

These rampant threats require businesses to expand their security solution to include not only intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) but also the strength and flexibility of cloud- based DDoS solutions. No longer can a business rely on over provisioning their telecom services or buying premise-based technologies as their only DDoS protection. The high adoption of broadband and availability of freely distributed DDoS attack software simply put a business's connection to the Internet at risk (saturation), rendering premise-based solutions useless unless they are also matched with a corresponding cloud-based DDoS service for large attacks.

In today's online business environment it is important that the risks are truly understood and mitigation measures put in place before attacks happen and the damage is done. Whether you are trying to protect your infrastructure, your revenue stream, your brand or your job, you need to act now. Traditional approaches simply aren't effective anymore. DDoS attacks are increasing in frequency, in size and in complexity.

By Rick Rumbarger, Technology Executive
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