By Emily Newton, Editor-in-Chief at Revolutionized Magazine
Ensuring data center security is a complex but necessary undertaking. Reliable cybersecurity means accounting for all relevant threats. Malware and social engineering typically take up most people’s focus as they’re among the most common, but distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack prevention deserves attention, too.
DDoS attacks can be unpredictable and damaging. If you want your data center to achieve maximum uptime and prevent security-compromising crashes, your safeguards must be strong enough to withstand these attacks.
Growing DDoS Threats
Many data centers overlook DDoS attack prevention because these threats don’t make headlines as often as ransomware or phishing. However, they’re more common and threatening than some may realize.
There were more than one million DDoS attacks in North America in the first half of 2022 alone — a rate of more than 5,000 attacks per day. Attacks against cloud services grew at a particularly alarming rate, rising 54% in H1 2022. Telecommunications providers and educational institutions also saw significant increases.
As more companies rely on wireless telecommunications and cloud services, these trends paint a more urgent picture of the DDoS landscape. The uptick in attacks against these operations could result in more downtime for a broader range of businesses. Cybercriminals may also turn to DDoS attacks to work around rising cybersecurity safeguards that make social engineering or malware-based attacks less effective.
DDoS Attack Prevention Best Practices
These trends are concerning, but downtime is a preventable issue. Here are some of the most crucial DDoS attack prevention steps to make your data center more resilient in the face of these threats.
Determine Network Needs
The first step in creating a more resilient data center is determining what your network needs. Review your infrastructure’s regular activity to establish what computing resources it requires and what regular traffic looks like. It’s essential to develop these benchmarks within your specific organization because “normal” levels vary between situations.
When determining network needs, keep scalability in mind. Global data volumes are rapidly increasing, so you’ll need more infrastructure in the future and even within a year, your traffic can vary widely outside of a DDoS attack. Giving yourself more space than you need provides a safety net, requiring a larger attack to compromise you and enabling secure growth.
Establishing a baseline for the typical activity will also help detect unusual spikes, aiding faster responses to DDoS attacks. If you can catch an attack early on, you have a better chance of mitigating it.
Remove Bottlenecks and Dependencies
The next step in DDoS attack prevention is to minimize the possible attack points. You can do this by distributing data center resources and limiting access wherever possible. If any application or resource doesn’t need to communicate with a port, protocol or other application, you should separate them.
As you enact these restrictions, it’s important to remove bottlenecks, too. You don’t want to enable unnecessary movement, but restricting things too tightly can create dependencies or inefficiencies that make DDoS attacks more effective.
The answer here is to distribute resources across multiple data centers, servers, physical locations and networks. Use load-balancing solutions to direct traffic across these distributed systems to keep everything well below its maximum capacity.
Regularly Maintain Equipment
It’s also critical to address the physical side of data center upkeep. Software-related measures are necessary, but your hardware affects how resilient your data centers are, too. Consider how 20% of data center downtime comes from bad batteries.
Preventing equipment-related issues comes in two steps. First, you should ensure you or your cloud provider has hardware that exceeds your computing and load-balancing needs. Secondly, you must maintain this equipment regularly to maximize its life span and performance.
Adopt a preventive maintenance plan where you regularly check on data center hardware instead of running it to failure. These regular checks should involve visual inspections, electronic testing and cleaning to ensure you uncover any issues and prevent damaging buildup. Keep detailed records of these checks to help spot any emerging trends.
Vet Partners and Third Parties
You’ll likely partner with many outside organizations in managing your data center, from cloud vendors to security software providers. While these relationships are often necessary, they can introduce third-party risks, so you should hold them to a higher standard.
Third-party risks are a growing and damaging issue, but they’re easy to overlook because you don’t have control over your partners’ security measures. To minimize these risks, research their security practices and history before going into business with them. Ask for proof of their reliability, like security certifications.
Even after this verification, it’s best to limit third-party access so everyone can only access what they need. Similarly, you should create a backup plan to move data or change providers if necessary in an emergency.
Automate Where Possible
Finally, recognize that DDoS attack prevention requires constant vigilance. To respond quickly enough to a potential attack, you need to spot abnormal traffic as soon as it arises. The only way most organizations can reliably do that is through automation.
IBM’s 2022 Cost of a Data Breach report found organizations with security automation saved $3 million more than those without, often due to faster responses. Because artificial intelligence is adept at detecting patterns, it’s also a more reliable way to spot abnormalities.
Automate your data center operations wherever you can — that includes network monitoring, load balancing and breach containment. Automation doesn’t replace the need for skilled, experienced staff, but it helps them accomplish their jobs faster and more accurately.
Modern Businesses Need DDos Attack Prevention Strategies
DDoS attack prevention is a crucial part of running a resilient data center. These steps will help you minimize uptime and prevent breaches regardless of your organization’s size or industry. When you establish that kind of security, you can fully capitalize on your data center’s potential for you and your clients.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief at Revolutionized Magazine. A regular contributor to Brilliance Security Magazine, she has over four years of experience writing articles in the industrial sector.