Distributed Denial of Service Attacks are Preventable!

Following a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the Hawaii Better Business Bureau website a few weeks ago, KHON 2 TV station reported a story on “Security tips after Better Business Bureau hit by cyber attack.” Unfortunately, the report spread misinformation about DDoS attacks:

Tech experts say attacks like these are nearly impossible to defend against, but website owners can take a few simple steps to safeguard their data, including installing virus detection and malware protection software.”

Apparently some tech experts still think it’s 1) “nearly impossible” to stop a DDoS attack, and that 2) you can prevent one merely by having a firewall, virus detection software or malware protection software. That’s plainly inaccurate, on both counts.

Nearly impossible to defend against? On the contrary, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are preventable, if an organization has a DDoS protection solution solution in place.

Traditional Security Infrastructure is Not Enough

In recent years, many—but clearly not all—IT professionals have learned that neither a firewall nor virus protection nor malware software can stop a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. In a recent DDoS survey of IT and network security professionals, Corero asked participants about their current methods of handling the DDoS threat; somewhat surprisingly, nearly one third (30%) of respondents rely on traditional security infrastructure products (firewall, IPS, load balancers) to protect their businesses from DDoS attacks. Those companies are very vulnerable to DDoS attacks because it’s well-documented that traditional security infrastructure products aren’t sufficient to mitigate DDoS attacks.

The Impacts of a DDoS Attack

And some IT professionals are still unaware about the various ramifications of a DDoS attack. One of the tech experts interviewed for the KHON television report was SuperGeeks CEO, Tim Caminos. It seems Caminos is ill-informed, because he dismissed the potential impacts of a DDoS attack by saying:

“Generally, the whole reason people do this is just to stop the flow of information, so whether it’s to take someone offline, whether it’s to prevent someone from buying services, that’s what these attacks are for.”

Although hackers often launch DDoS attacks purely to create a nuisance by taking a website offline, it’s becoming very common for hackers to launch “Dark DDoS” attacks that distract IT security staff while the hackers launch malware or infiltrate sensitive databases. They may go after information such as a company’s intellectual property. And in many cases, the DDoS attacks are low-threshold, short-duration attacks that escape the attention of IT security staff; such attacks may not cripple a website but they can negatively affect network or website performance.

Caminos also (reportedly) said “the risk to consumers is low since there is usually no data lost or stolen.” Actually, there is substantial risk for consumers, because sometimes—not always—DDoS hackers do steal credit card data and/or email addresses, and then sell that data on the black market/dark web.

Distributed denial of service attacks are a serious problem that warrants serious attention. It affects millions of websites and applications, and no organization is immune to the threat. Clearly, many organizations are still unaware about the availability and importance of DDoS protection, so we at Corero remain dedicated to educating everyone about the evolving DDoS threat landscape and the solutions we offer to resolve those threats.

If you’d like to learn how Corero can protect your organization from a DDoS attack, contact us.