General

What are DDoS Attacks & How to Deal with them

The internet is abuzz with talks of the recent outage faced by Domain Registrar Godaddy. The outage was suspected to be because of a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (commonly known as a DDoS attack) that targeted Godaddy’s DNS servers, affecting several websites as well as email services. (However, a recent statement by Godaddy mentions that it was an internal network error that caused the interruption in services)

DDoS attacks are a fairly common occurrence on the internet and are something we’ve experienced in the past as well. Here is some more information on DDoS attacks, who they affect and how we mitigate such attacks.

What is a DDoS attack?

A Denial of Service Attack aims to make a website unavailable to users by flooding the website’s servers with an extremely high number of requests. These multiple incoming requests can make website resolution exceedingly slow and can even cause servers to crash.

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is essentially a DoS attack that originates from multiple sources. Such attacks are usually carried out using thousands of unsuspecting zombie machines known as botnets.

DDoS attacks have traditionally been used by cyber criminals to extort money from website owners that rely on the accessibility of their websites. However ‘Hacktivists’ have also initiated such attacks in the past to bring down company and government websites in protest of certain policies or decisions.

A  popular recent example is anonymous’ attack in protest of the Megaupload Raids that targeted various government and music industry sites.

Who can it affect?

DDoS attacks are difficult to safeguard against completely and can affect large and small websites alike.

Having suffered a DDoS attack on our DNS servers in the past, we understand that such attacks can occur and the best solution is to have systems in place that allow you to mitigate the attack and get systems back online as soon as possible.

Which leads us to – How do we mitigate DDoS attacks?

While there isn’t a lot that can be done to prevent DDoS attacks, there are certain techniques that we employ to mitigate DDoS attacks and restore services.

To help mitigate DDoS attacks we’ve employed the services of Prolexic Technologies that is a global leader in DDoS Protection & Mitigation. While there are multiple ways in which Prolexic helps mitigate DDoS attacks, here is a simplified version of how Prolexic works.

  • BGP Routing:
    With BGP routing, when a DDoS attack occurs, our traffic gets routed through Prolexic’s servers where malicious and legitimate traffic is segregated and legitimate users can continue to access our services.
  • Advanced Filtering:
    As the traffic gets routed through Prolexic’s servers, their filtering technology identifies anomalies which are then “red flagged” by the system. Moreover, research is then conducted by Prolexic engineers to determine whether this activity should be blocked on the network. Once malicious activity has been determined, it is labeled in the system and blocked.

How can you independently mitigate attacks?
As a individual website owner you have limited control over a server but you can use CloudFlare to protect your websites from attacks.

CloudFlare protects your websites by routing traffic through their intelligent global network – a little like what Prolexic does for us

We already provide CloudFlare on our Hosting servers so Resellers can enable and start using it immediately. More information on how CloudFlare can protect you can be found here – http://www.cloudflare.com/overview

How Web Hosting Providers should deal with a DDoS Attack:

DDoS attacks are a very real threat to website owners and hosts worldwide but like I said before, there is no foolproof way for anyone to really protect themselves against such an attack.

As a Web Hosting provider yourself, I’m sure you’ve come across Customers that consider leaving you in the aftermath of a DDoS attack. You might have felt the same of your upstream provider as well. However, it’s important to remember that anyone can be a target.

An indicator of a good Host isn’t one that hasn’t been attacked yet but one that can effectively restore services and reduce damage.

How Web Hosts handle the situation is also an important indicator. I’ve always seen that the ones that do handle attacks effectively provide detailed information on the following: (This actually applies to most issues/interruption in services)

  1. Which services were affected?
  2. Are the services back up or how long will it take to restore services?
  3. Does the Client need to do anything?
  4. Why did this happen i.e. details of the DDoS attack
  5. How was the attack mitigated?
  6. Can this happen again?
  7. Who can Clients contact if they have any concerns?

Being honest and straightforward will go a long way in assuring your Customers that you’re doing everything you can to resolve the issue and they’ll respect you for keeping them in the loop.

CloudFlare

CloudFlare Partner with Innovative Hosting Corporation.

 

How CloudFlare Increases Speed and Security of Your Site

This is a guest post written and contributed by CloudFlare.  CloudFlare makes it easy for any site to be as fast and secure as the Internet Giants.

CloudFlare, a web performance and security company, is excited to announce our partnership with Innovative Web Hosting Solution! If you haven’t heard about CloudFlare before, our value proposition is simple: we’ll make any website twice as fast and protect it from a broad range of web threats.

Today, hundreds of thousands of websites—ranging from individual blogs to e-commerce sites to the websites of Fortune 500 companies to national governments—use CloudFlare to make their sites faster and more secure. We power more than 40 billion monthly page views—more than Amazon.com, Wikipedia, Twitter, Zynga, AOL, Apple and Bing combined—and over 25% of the Internet’s population regularly passes through our network.

Faster Web Performance

CloudFlare is designed to take a great hosting platform like Innovative Web Hosting Solution and make it even better.

We run 19 data centers strategically located around the world. When you sign up for CloudFlare, we begin routing your traffic to the nearest data center.

As your traffic passes through the data centers, we intelligently determine what parts of your website are static versus dynamic.  The static portions are cached on our servers for a short period of time, typically less than 2 hours before we check to see if they’ve been updated.  By automatically moving the static parts of your site closer to your visitors, the overall performance of your site improves significantly.

CloudFlare’s intelligent caching system also means you save bandwidth, which means saving money, and decreases the load on your servers, which means your web application will run faster and more efficiently than ever. On average, CloudFlare customers see a 60% decrease in bandwidth usage, and a 65% in total requests to their servers.  The overall effect is that CloudFlare will typically cut the load time for pages on your site by 50% which means higher engagement and happier visitors.

Broad Web Security

Over the course of 2011, CloudFlare identified a 700% increase in the number of distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) we track on the Internet (see the chart below). As attacks like these increase, CloudFlare is stepping up to protect sites.

CloudFlare’s security protections offer a broad range of protections against attacks such as DDoS, hacking or spam submitted to a blog or comment form. What is powerful about our approach is that the system gets smarter the more sites that are part of the CloudFlare community. We analyze the traffic patterns of hundreds of millions of visitors in real time and adapt the security systems to ensure good traffic gets through and bad traffic is stopped.

In time, our goal is nothing short of making attacks against websites a relic of history. And, given our scale and the billions of different attacks we see and adapt to every year, we’re well on our way to achieving that for sites on the CloudFlare network.

Signing Up

Any website can deploy CloudFlare, regardless of your underlying platform.  By integrating closely with Innovative Web Hosting Solution, we make the process of setting up CloudFlare “1 click easy” through your existing Innovative Web Hosting Solution [CONTROL PANEL] dashboard.  Just look for the CloudFlare icon, choose the domain you want to enable, and click the orange cloud. That’s it!

We’ve kept the price as low as possible and plans offered through Innovative Web Hosting Solution are free.  Moreover, we never charge you for bandwidth or storage, therefore saving you tons via reduced bandwidth costs.

For site owners who would like to take advantage of CloudFlare’s advanced offerings, we also offer a ‘Pro’ tier of service for $20/month. The ‘Pro’ tier includes all of the ‘Free’ tier’s offerings, as well as extra features like SSL, full web application firewall and faster analytics.

We’re proud that every day more than a thousand new sites, including some of the largest on the web, join the CloudFlare community. If you’re looking for a faster, safer website, you’ve got a good start with [YOUR COMPANY NAME], but the next step is to join the CloudFlare community.