DDoS (Distributed Denial of Services) attacks are growing in volume and frequency. These types of attacks focus on preventing user access through temporary interruption or suspension of services from its hosting server, Eg. Inability to access a website or online services. Attackers usually launch a DDoS from a network of vulnerable devices, commonly known as a botnet. DDoS attacks are classified into volume-based attacks, protocol attacks, zero-day attacks, and application-layer attacks. These attacks can be triggered by multiple IP’s from around the world, and this makes it difficult to mitigate them.
Nowadays, attackers are more interested in launching quick attacks by sending millions of fake packets to saturate logs and lasts for a shorter period; this time is sufficient for the attacker to exploit vulnerabilities in a network or secured socket layers. Sometimes a DDoS attack purpose is just to slow down systems through multiple sources and ensure inconvenience for the target business. Attacks are becoming smart and challenging to detect. Rapid digitization is also exposing digital systems to new sophisticated threats as these systems go through network configuration changes and service additions to meet business demands.
The consistency of attacks emphasizes the need to protect apps, systems, and devices from DDoS attacks to ensure continuous connectivity and drive business as usual. DDoS defense mechanisms must meet the continual changes of the digital world by regularly analyzing traffic behaviors/anomalies and past trends to verify whether the traffic is legitimate.
The need for DDoS simulations
DDoS simulation is an ideal way of conducting a real-time, controlled, and offensive attack scenario to evaluate the potential risks and vulnerabilities in your infrastructure. DDoS simulations can assess your organization’s responsiveness to thwart and retaliate an external DDoS threat. The simulation exercise is a risk mitigation service used to verify capabilities in handling high volumetric attacks at low levels, and which can have a devastating impact on business.
Since more than 80% of DDoS related configuration settings and thresholds are misconfigured, most common simulation exercises fail to detect or mitigate connection, cryptographic, and application-layer attacks. These attacks can differ in intensity and is mostly seen at the application-bug level and infrastructural levels. The application-bug level attacks occur due to system weakness, outdated patches, misconfiguration, or protocol vulnerability. Infrastructural level attacks can happen through IP spoofing targeting application or network layers.
Here are a few ways of reducing the possibility of a DDoS attack:
- Continuously validate and improve your infrastructure readiness and response time of security teams/processes/technologies towards a DDoS attack.
- Schedule attack scenarios by leveraging adequate threat intelligence and keep your security systems in alert mode.
- Monitor network activity, 24x7, and analyze network behaviors/bandwidth related anomalies of incoming IP addresses and distinguish them to block unnecessary ones.
- Align DDoS defense plans into your business risk management strategy.
Initiating a DDoS simulation
DDoS simulation experts do extensive research on your technology infrastructure to gain intelligence in devising these scenarios. The scenarios can be various combinations of attacks to test cyber defenses in a safe environment to help strengthen your security posture. Areas covered in a DDoS simulation exercise include a thorough evaluation of your DDoS defenses, managing third-party vendor risks, finding ways to optimize defense systems, improving incident response time, and strengthening incident monitoring systems.
The scope of simulations also includes identifying sensitive and exploitable areas present in your infrastructure and applications. It includes:
- Designing deep network-level attacks at router levels and deny physical access to critical servers and ensure direct impact by clogging bandwidth, CPU, or memory.
- Disrupt application functionalities by draining physical system resources like CPU time, memory & bandwidth consumption, and filling up hard disks.
Key reasons why you need a DDoS simulation exercise:
- DDoS simulations are affordable and can help you gain clarity on the status quo of your DDoS defenses.
- Enables you to understand the loopholes and scale of security upgrade needed to mitigate risks.
- To gain a deeper understanding of security capabilities and their ability to withstand different levels of DDoS attacks.
- Understand loopholes in risk mitigation processes.
The need for a DDoS simulation service provider
A DDoS simulation service provider must have the tools to generate complex attack traffic, topologies, defense libraries, scripts, and advanced techniques to develop and analyze reports. They should have the expertise in creating more than 150 advanced attack vectors, capacities to generate traffic over 1 Tbps, cloud servers in more than 100 global data centers to launch simulated attacks, multiple agents capable of provisioning bandwidth of 10 GB at a packet rate of 1 million/sec and 4 million TCP connections.
The only way of knowing how your apps and systems will behave during an attack is through a simulation exercise. It is also recommended to have clarity on assets that should be identified and regularly monitored for DDoS attack prevention. Ensure you take the help of DDoS simulation service provider to understand the status of your security configuration settings thoroughly and develop a response plan for quicker response during an attack.