Why and How to Safeguard Your Website Against DDoS Attacks

Why and How to Safeguard Your Website Against DDoS Attacks

DDoS attacks on websites pose serious challenges for users, owners, and operators. A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack disrupts a website, server, or application by flooding it with bogus traffic, denying access to legitimate users. If you own or run a business website, learning how to safeguard it against DDoS attacks is vital. This article explains how to protect websites against DDoS attacks, why websites are targeted by DDoS attackers, the types of websites most at risk, the impact of these attacks, and recent examples of DDoS attacks on websites. By the end, you’ll understand why and how to safeguard your website against DDoS attacks.

Why Safeguard Your Website from DDoS Attacks?

DDoS attacks can take a website offline, leading to lost revenue and customers. Safeguarding your website against DDoS attacks is essential to preventing these negative outcomes:

  • Downtime: DDoS attacks can exhaust server resources (CPU, RAM, throughput) thereby taking websites offline and making them unavailable to end users.
  • Loss of business/customers: For e-commerce websites, downtime could lead to cart abandonment and subsequent loss of sales as shoppers visit an alternative online store to purchase.
  • Financial losses: By interfering with online sales cycles, DDoS attacks can cause businesses to suffer financial losses running into thousands or millions of dollars.
  • Reputational damage: Websites or businesses that suffer repeated unmitigated DDoS attacks will also suffer reputational damage within and outside their industry.
  • Loss of SEO rankings: A website may lose its hard-won SEO ranking if it experiences extended downtime due to DDoS attacks.
  • Susceptibility to further attacks: A DDoS attack can make a website susceptible to other forms of cyberattacks by serving as a distraction.
  • Disaster recovery costs: DDoS disaster recovery costs can escalate quickly, encompassing hardware replacement, software upgrades, and hiring external specialists.

Examples of DDoS Attacks on Websites

DDoS attacks occur frequently, so the majority go unreported despite the fact that their impact can be crippling for a business. Recent website DDoS attacks that made the news include the following:

  • In January 2024, while the World Economic Forum met in Davos, Switzerland, several Federal Administration websites suffered a DDoS attack, according to the Swiss National Cybersecurity Center.
  • In November 2023, multiple public healthcare institutions in Singapore were hit by a DDoS attack that lasted over seven hours, according to public healthcare IT service provider, Synapxe.
  • In May 2023, a number of Polish news websites were the victims of a coordinated DDoS attack that the government’s digitization minister Janusz Cieszynski ascribed to pro-Russian hacking groups.
  • In February 2023, seven websites belonging to German airports experienced a large-scale DDoS attack.

These incidents are a stark reminder that DDoS attacks can target anyone at any time, including individuals, businesses, industries, organizations, and governments, unless comprehensive DDoS protection services are in place to counter such attacks.

What Kind of Websites Are Most at Risk of DDoS Attacks?

Evidently, websites of every type are at risk of DDoS attacks. However, websites in certain sectors or verticals are at higher risk: the gaming, financial, and telecom sectors respectively are the most commonly hit industries.

Chart showing most-at-risk sectors for DDoS attacks, with gaming, financial, and telecom suffering from the highest rates
DDoS attacks by industry

It’s worth noting that DDoS attacks are a truly global threat. The location of your business, servers, or customers doesn’t significantly affect the chance that you’ll be targeted. That makes safeguarding your website against DDoS absolutely essential. Let’s turn to how you can achieve that.

How to Safeguard Your Website Against DDoS Attacks

Let’s explore some key methods of preventing DDoS attacks.

Implement Rate Limiting

Automated bad bots can execute tasks like web scraping, form submission abuse, and malicious POST, GET, PUT, PATCH, or DELETE requests. Implementing rate limiting, which restricts the rate of incoming requests to your site, is an effective countermeasure.

By configuring a rate limiter, you specify the allowable number of user requests to your website or domain per second, protecting your site from fraudulent requests stemming from a DDoS attack. You can even limit requests by geographical location.

Gcore also offers full-scale automated bot protection within our web security solution. Once subscribed, you can configure bot protection to mitigate bot activity targeting your online assets.

Enable WAAP

Gcore WAAP (Web Application Firewall + API Protection) employs real-time monitoring and machine learning to filter incoming traffic, scan and authenticate request signatures, and block malicious requests, thereby protecting your connected resources. It shields websites and web applications against zero-day attacks, credential theft, account takeover, malicious bots, OWASP Top 10 threats, and DDoS attacks.

Once enabled, you can view reports, create rules, and manage triggers all in one place. Triggers let you specify the conditions, filters, and actions to be taken in the event of an attack that meets the criteria you set.

Connect to a CDN

A website such as a gaming platform may experience a genuine traffic spike, or a DDoS attack that resembles one, due to a new game release, rendering it unresponsive or entirely unavailable to gamers at a critical moment. Thankfully, this can be prevented or mitigated by connecting your gaming platform to a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN is a network of globally distributed caching (edge) servers that ensure efficient content delivery.

During a DDoS attack, a CDN with DDoS protection like Gcore CDN protects your origin servers and end users. The CDN monitors, analyzes, and filters incoming traffic, allowing only legitimate requests to reach your origin servers. Caching servers within the CDN network then deliver the requested content to legitimate users only, thereby preventing network congestion and denial of service to end users.

Split Content Across Different Domains

Having all your website content on a single domain increases your vulnerability to DDoS attacks. A strategic alternative is to distribute your content across multiple domains or subdomains, increasing redundancy and therefore DDoS resiliency.

Store API on a Dedicated Domain

Websites or applications that keep both content and API on the same domain are more vulnerable to DDoS attacks than those that place their API on a dedicated domain, increasing the hurdle for potential attackers.

Storing your API on a dedicated domain allows you to set and apply custom access policies and security measures, such as request limits and WAF. Also, specific resources (such as dedicated servers) can be allocated to APIs. This can improve organization and simplify maintenance.

Store Static Content on a Dedicated Domain

Static content, such as scripts, images, and style files remain unchanged when webpages load. They are easy to cache, fast to serve, resource-efficient, and immutable, unlike dynamic content. Storing static content on a dedicated domain and connecting it to a CDN makes that content easier to cache and much faster to serve to end users. It also improves redundancy and DDoS resiliency.

Store Minimal JavaScript Code on the Homepage

While splitting content among different domains, store only a minimal amount of JavaScript code on the homepage. This facilitates simultaneous content downloads from your API and static content domains. The JavaScript code for the homepage should not store client data or depend on client data This will help to prevent security, privacy, performance, maintenance, and caching issues.

Whenever REST API requests are received, they are processed with a JavaScript request on the client side, thereby protecting you against DDoS attacks by bad actors who aren’t familiar with JavaScript.

Split Paths on Your Site Logically

A URL path is the part of a domain name after the dot com. For instance, the URL path in example.com/product/categories/shoes is /product/categories/shoes. As shown in the image below.

URL showing highlighted URL path
URL Path

Splitting paths on a website allows you to organize, distribute, and manage resources efficiently across different URL paths. More importantly, it allows you to apply tailored access policies, such as rate limiting, to checkmate DDoS attacks.

Reduce the Number of Query Parameters

Query parameters are the parts of a URL after the question mark (?). Also known as URL parameters or query strings, they are used to pass additional information to web servers and consist of a key-value pair, separated by an = sign. Multiple key-value pairs are separated by an ampersand (&).

In the following URL, there are two key-value pairs separated by an ampersand: http://www.example.com/products/shoes?color=black&sort=newest

key 1: color, value 1: black

key 2: sort, value 2: newest

This will filter the results to display black shoes, listing the newest ones first.

Reducing the number of query parameters makes it easier for web servers to cache, fetch, and serve webpages, thereby improving redundancy and DDoS resiliency. In other words, the fewer or shorter the query parameters, the better.

Gcore DDoS Protection

Advanced DDoS protection measures are customized solutions designed to protect your resources against DDoS attacks, even if you don’t apply any of the previous methods discussed in this article!

Gcore DDoS Protection offers proven, real-time defense against all forms of DDoS attacks, ensuring 24/7 website availability. Upon activation, it monitors and analyzes website traffic, detecting and countering anomalies swiftly. If necessary, incoming traffic is redirected to our scrubbing centers with over 1 Tbps capacity for malicious traffic filtering and blocking. The system blocks malicious requests from the initial query based on session, not IP, ensuring excellent protection with an ultra-low false positive rate (< 0.01%). Real-time reports and round-the-clock technical support are guaranteed.

Gcore DDoS protection showing traffic filtration process
Gcore DDoS Protection

Conclusion

DDoS attacks pose significant threats to websites, potentially causing downtime, financial losses, and reputational damage. Proactive measures, including rate limiting, enabling Gcore’s DDoS protection, connecting to a CDN, and strategically splitting content across domains, can enhance your website’s defense against these attacks. Regardless of your industry or location, these steps are crucial in safeguarding your website and ensuring its uninterrupted availability.

Enabling Gcore DDoS protection is a simple and proven way to ensure DDoS resiliency for your website, effectively safeguarding it against different types of DDoS attacks. Get in touch today to explore how we can protect your resources. Or, simply connect Gcore DDoS protection right now.

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