Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks present a major security risk for many companies and organizations. DDoS attacks, which attempt to shut down web hosts and servers by overloading them with traffic, also eat into your bandwidth and resources—meaning a successful DDoS attack can stonewall your network and web applications.
It’s important to know DDoS attacks can wreak havoc on businesses and organizations relying on online traffic to stay operational. If a server crashes or if the reduced bandwidth limits how customers access your site and services, then the effects of the DDoS attack can even impact your company’s revenue and bottom line. Because of how damaging these attacks can be, you should understand how these attacks work and recognize best practices for DDoS monitoring.
One reason DDoS attacks are so effective is because the flood of traffic doesn’t emanate from a single source. If an attack stemmed from a single IP address, it would be easy to filter it out. However, the word “distributed” in DDoS refers to hackers generating traffic by using a web of user machines, embedded systems, and devices they’ve infected with administrative software.
Effective DDoS attacks work by swarming the targeted sites until they overload and crash. To make this happen, attackers might leverage tens of thousands of infected devices to flood your servers and hosts. DDoS malware might be used to infect routers and shut down systems in a few different ways. One technique involves sending a large number of incomplete connection requests. While your system creates a wait state as it tries to reestablish the connection request, the malware can continue to generate new requests, bogging down your systems even further.
It can be hard to know if what you’re experiencing is a technical difficulty or a full-fledged attack. More often than not, the first reports of your site or web applications being down will come from customers. In many situations like this, you probably don’t think you’re experiencing a DDoS attack right away—you might check servers and web hosts first. However, if you run basic diagnostic tests on your servers, you’ll find higher-than-normal network traffic and maxed-out resources.
The key to reducing the harm a DDoS attack has on your company is to recognize the problem as quickly as possible, so you can start mitigating the damage in an appropriate way. If the attack extends for hours, then those are several hours of downed service and lost income. To recognize these attacks and stop them as soon as possible, pay attention to known indications of a DDoS attack, including:
● Specific IP addresses making a sudden number of requests over a short period of time
● 503 service outage errors from your servers
● TTL (time to live) ping requests timing out
● Employees experiencing slowdown issues (if your internal software uses the same connections as your servers and web hosts)
● Your log analyzer applications detecting massive spikes in network traffic
Automated system monitoring software can use some of these indicators to generate email or text alerts to flag malicious activity as soon as possible.
Log analysis tools are useful software solutions for DDoS monitoring and detection because of the real-time details and statistics they provide regarding your web traffic. Solutions like SolarWinds® Loggly®, for instance, are designed to identify spikes in activity indicative of a DDoS attack. Loggly does this with an anomaly-detection tool designed to look for an unusual number of 503 errors from servers. This allows you to determine whether you’re experiencing an ongoing attack and keeps your admins notified of potentially problematic activity.
Using automated log analysis software to identify DDoS attacks comes with a few other advantages to make the remediation process easier. For instance, log analyzers not only allow you to monitor the date and time of traffic spikes, they also indicate which servers the attack has affected and what error types have been generated. Rather than just informing of an ongoing attack, log management tools provide you with the information needed to quickly troubleshoot and mitigate the damage of a DDoS attack.
A large part of this has to do with the alerting systems log analyzers offer. Proactive DDoS monitoring allows admins to receive notifications for several event types—giving log management solutions an element of flexibility traffic-only alerts don’t provide. From big picture to the granular, customizable alerts go a long way to ensure nothing of concern occurs within your networked computing environment without a team of admins who are able take action being notified. For instance, Loggly allows you to tailor your alerts based on the interrelation of detected event and traffic spikes, filtering out the majority of log files to present you with the anomalies needing immediate attention.
DDoS attacks are hard to deal with—which is why it’s vital to be prepared. By incorporating log management software with comprehensive alerting and automated remediation capabilities into your security lineup, you can help to drastically reduce the time required to identify and end a DDoS attack. Factoring in intrusion detection software or routing configurations can help to keep your systems safe, but the most devious of DDoS attacks can sometimes slip through, which is why it’s essential to keep an eye on your network traffic. Loggly lets you track network performance and traffic issues by providing graphic visualizations and log analysis allowing you to instantly spot when and where an event took place.
Make debilitating DDoS attacks a thing of the past—sign up for Loggly’s free 14-day trial today to view performance, behavior, and anomalous events across your entire stack from one, centralized dashboard.